Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Libraries Gave Us Power

In response to a complaint about our library's self-help service, a council spokesman said the following:-

"The use of self-service enables staff to perform more customer-focused functions within the libraries, such as helping choose books and offering guidance on the use of the public computers."

I don't need to use the public computers but any suggestions on which books I might enjoy reading are welcome.

So the next time I see my favourite library assistant I will ask her if she could point me in the direction of suitable books. I'll say I'm 47 years old, I enjoy intelligent films and television, have extremely catholic taste in non-bland music, and am leaning more towards non-fiction as I get older though I have recently enjoyed reading the library's stock of John Wyndham books and am currently enjoying Patrick Hamilton's Hangover Square. My political views are pretty left wing for this day and age, I do not wish to read about sport as the only sport I like is football and footballers' autobiographies are notoriously fucking brainless, I hate Jeremy Clarkson with a passion, Stephen Fry, though I think he's a nice chap, bores me senseless, comedians and journalists are mostly a bunch of tossers, I went through a period of reading plays in my 20s but I've grown out of that now, same with Philip K Dick, I do like a bit of poetry but couldn't sit down and read a whole anthology, I am not interested in anything a man of my age is supposed to enjoy such as cars, trains, Brunel, DIY, finance, religion, eighteen year old girls, murdering the mother-in-law, koi carp or fucking Wii.

"Please, Mrs Library Assistant? Can you point me in the right direction?"


  1. Geoff - you are speaking for me there (except I quite like 18year old girls) so if she gives you any suggestions let me know. The last time I went to the library, the assistant asked if I had any recommendations - a new initiative.
    Hangover Square is great as is The Slaves of Solitude - but we need something cheerful as well.

  2. Erm... have you tried Barbara Cartland?

  3. "Customer-focus"

    Another great piece of pointless language abuse. The inherent logic of Libraries is that they serve their "customers" (i.e. the people who use them) by collecting in one place more materials than any one individual could reasonably expect to have use for and to open up that resource to the greatest number of people for the greatest benefit thereof. That is an inherently decent idea and one which, try (and pay as much to people who will try and fail) as they might, cannot be improved upon.

    Now, here's the clever bit. By suggesting that, previously, this arrangement somehow sold the "customer"/person who used the Library, they can do away entirely with the awkward problem of having an unimprovable idea. Lo and behold, the collective resource can now be shaped by individuals, or individual interests; usually those which just happen to coincide with the interests of the people who are claiming to be focussing on their "customers".

    So now, when they throw out all those old classics that nobody reads anymore, or gradually turning the place into a coffeeshop/creche/Asylum Seeker holding bay/videohire shop (delete as applicable) they can say they're doing so in order to pander to some "customer" impulse they've somehow manage to concoct from all of those meaningless "focus groups" they're perpetually holding with (presumambly) a selection of the borough's most retarded and self-serving residents...

    Sorry - I'll stop now before I get *really* angry...


    p.s. wv: peacquin (Ironically!)

  4. I have just sent a message to a newly found 6th cousin. She said that she was a librarian. I told her that I was writing quietly.

  5. You might think she'd be referring you to a Jim Morrison "Light My Fire" tomb when she suggests "Have You Tried the Doors".

    I think she means get out.

  6. Try ordering obscurities.

  7. Kaz - You obviously look well read. I just look well scruffy. I like 18 year old girls really but I haven't gone through a mid-life crisis yet. Is it too late for me?

    Scarlet - The pages of Barbara Cartland library books are stuck together with congealed drool.

    Morton - The "customer" thing is bullshit just as we all became rail "customers" when the bastards privatised British Rail. Being a customer suggests you can take your custom elsewhere if you're not satisfied with the service. The trouble is libraries and train companies have these bloody monopolies and you can't go elsewhere. It's so frustrating! I hope they had nice biscuits at their focus group.

    Vicus - With this family tree of yours you are branching into some dangerous areas.

    Rog - I don't know why she took a dislike to me. I'm very friendly, really.

    Billy - You can look up everything online now. So there's no need to speak to the staff at all. Soon it will just be a couple of retired security guards and one librarian.

  8. I can't get to the library and have been banned from ordering any more from Amazon so am reading anything that keeps still long enough, you'd be amazed what some foodstuffs contain I recommend reading the contents of your cupboards I'm finding it riveting . . . better than Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel which is only marginally less interesting than dying.

  9. Do they do cereal packaging for adults? I suppose some of the muesli packets are quite intense.

  10. What I'm finding really interesting reding though, is your biography.



  11. I'm also enjoying reading it as well

  12. I suggest reading Dave Barry Turns 50.

    Dave “decided not to dwell "on the negative aspects of turning 50" and instead offers a "celebration of the aging process" by examining significant baby-boomer accomplishments ("The New Age movement! Call waiting!").”

    A fun way to prepare yourself for your declining years, Geoff.

  13. Ziggi - Thank you. I'll hopefully get round to the next part at the weekend.

    MJ - I'll look out for it in the Oldie section of the library.

  14. She will probably escort you to the Len Deighton section.

  15. History and autobiographies tend to be my bag. And the odd showbiz book. I like a bit of psychic nonsense as well.

    Plays can be surprisingly good to read - there are few finer than Alan Bennett's Talking Heads - they are masterfully crafted monologues. I consider monologues to be vastly underrated.

  16. Mm. The most memorable line I heard while attending a funeral today in library-less France was 'If I had been been into pederasty I would have rocked out with Leonard Bernstein'. Any comment?

  17. Romo - I was hoping for Leslie Thomas.

    Laura - I think Talking Heads was better to read than watch or listen to. As are most plays, probably.

    Christopher - I am shocked. Just how old is this person? And how do they know what Leonard Bernstein looked like as a boy?

  18. I wish that I could enjoy reading "books" but it just takes too bloody long. Who, other than the infirm and incarcerated, has hours to waste sifting through words? Just hurry up and give me the gawdamn summary of your so-called novel..
    what happens at the end? Who dies? Hurry my brain wants to do the "next" thing!

    At least TV has commercials and you can surf channels..and the internet is awesome because there are so many things to do that only take a few nanoseconds and thenyoucangoontothenexthingwithoutmissingabeat (gasp)

  19. Wyndham10:21 AM

    You appear to be channeling me, somewhat.

  20. Donn - We had our electricity off for a day last week. Without a book I would have been lost. Sorry, that should read "without a torch".

    Wyndham - It's mid-life modern world is rubbish syndrome. Hope you are keeping well.

  21. I am "hearing",
    what you are "saying".

    My ridiculous response was a poor attempt at sarcasm because I have noticed that the IN CROWD are texting each other 25/7 and don't have time for books!

  22. Texting and playing games.

    The mobile phone is a wonderful invention.