Friday, June 09, 2006

On old books and libraries

Another nice column from Jacob Stein:

Cyril Connolly, the British critic and essayist, in his essay titled “Tapering Off” deals with his book-buying obsession. He resolves he will buy no more books. He will decide on the books he will keep and the books he will give away.

Book collectors do not try to sell their books. That would be sinful. Either give them away or leave them up to the executor and the auctioneer to get the best price. . . .

By the end of the column, Stein waxes lyrical about libraries he has enjoyed, including the MLK Library in downtown Washington and the law library at the D.C. Bar Association. The latter, as he sadly notes, no longer exists. What he doesn't mention is that building housing the MLK Library, designed by Mies van der Rohe, widely praised at the time it went up in 1972 and built so that it could be reconfigured and expanded, is seriously endangered.

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