AN HOUR IN A LIBRARY



Outline: The importance of libraries – what I owe to the public library in my town – my hourly routine in the library.

Libraries are important mean of disseminating knowledge. “A good collection of books” says Carlyle, “is the true university of our days”. The formal education received in schools and colleges is not of much value, unless it is supplemented by as wide a reading as possible. So many good books are published nowadays that it is impossible to buy and posses even a small part of them. Lovers of books have not alternative but to depend on a good library.

There is a good public library in my town of which I am a member. I have cultivated the habit of spending at least an hour in that library every evening. To the countless hours I have spent there I owe the broadening of my mental horizon, my general knowledge, which often elicits warm compliments from my teachers, and the wealth and variety of ideas which help me writing an essay or speaking at a debate. Let me describe my hourly routine in the library.

On entering the library I first go to the stand where the daily newspapers are put up for perusal. I stand before it for about fifteen minutes, reading the headlines, scanning the interesting news items, and sometimes going through the letters to the editor, if they happen to pertain to education or any other interesting subjects, I am very much annoyed if some aggressive person by my side thrusts himself forward or turns a page when I am absorbed in reading an interesting news items. Then I move on to the table where the weeklies and the magazines are kept. I glance at some them finally select one in which there are articles or short stories I would like to read. I settle myself in an easy chair, preferably in a cozy corner, and read the articles or short stories for about half an hour. (I sometimes find, to my disappointment, that no easy chair is vacant.) Before rising from my comfortable seat I look around and observe what others are doing. One gentleman is snoring in an easy chair, his face covered with a large magazine. Some people evidently come to the library more to relax than to read. Some people, I notice, cannot resist the temptation to comment loudly, apparently for the benefit of their neighbours, on what they are reading, and sometimes even to enter into a discussion with them on some point or other. An old man who must be on the wrong side of eighty is standing before a newspaper, earnestly jotting down something in his small notebook. I wonder what he is taking down and how it can be useful to him when he is on the threshold of the grave.


I then go to the stacks containing books and stand before them, gazing at the titles and attractive covers of some of them. There are novels and plays and books on history, science, religion and so forth. How is it possible to read even a fraction of these books? I derived a certain pleasure from knowing the titles and authors of several books, as though it were a substitute for reading them. I sometimes borrow a book and take it home.