Article Creativity + Identity

A library at home

Stacked book shelves—lighting up a room, with words on paper, within bindings—are a reader’s greatest strength, and this tradition from the past still carries on, influencing the lives of many and providing a bridge swaying between what is learned and the learner.

This connection ‘tween the mind and the material which is read, comprises several types of work: fiction, non-fiction, journalism, poetry and other genres of writing. This convergence initially has always been empowered by libraries, whether at universities, schools or other establishments, or also, by libraries at home, where these learning relationships all really begin.

As the internet and other electronic forms of reading have become important media to gather knowledge, to work, or simply to surf, is the library at home, as a result, gathering dust? It probably is not, since many students, homemakers, entrepreneurs, and office-goers still like the feel of a solid book, with fresh or even aged printed papers in their hands; and a library helps them store such treasures.

Maintaining a library at home, in addition to our regular access to wonderful e-libraries and e-projects, can turn out to be quite beneficial. Let us take a look at the various advantages of keeping a library at home and why doing so could be healthy.

A library at home—could be the ultimate love of a reading aficionado, because it is a rich source of reference and an excellent representation of a person’s interest and any occupations linked to reading and even research related activities. Libraries in real are easy to access. One can just reach out, pick a book or a magazine and flick through the pages, slowly or swiftly, gathering information, or simply be immersed in knowing or reading, in consequence.

Putting a tiny library, or a bigger one together at home is a slow process oftentimes, because the collector’s tastes may or may not change with time, or they may want to keep a variety of books and publications in the library anyway, something that they can always go back to, or simply just keep, for someone else in the family or friend circle to give to.

E-reading devices, which provide instant access to various e-materials and the internet, where they provide channels to gather quality narratives from the wise web, are crucial too. But their utility does not eliminate the value of the tradition of book collecting. Breathing fresh air, being close to nature, relaxing, taking time to rest, spending time away from electronic screens—even mobiles—all add to the well-being of an individual. Sometimes on such adventures, reading is lovely; however, printed matter from one’s own library keeps opportunities within reach. As a result of this, the traditional format of reading books, newspapers, magazines, and journals, is not something that will go away so quickly, nor should it.

Those who understand this allow an appropriate library to occupy a glad space, at home or in the office, provided it is feasible for them. Keeping a small library at home and maintaining it is definitely a worthwhile occupation. This is a habit, which must be appreciated and encouraged, because one’s home-library is always visible to self and family. A small library, as such, if nurtured and treated with care, can provide a wealth of information to those desirous of exploring, not just e-content, but the jewels lying within bundled or single pages of any kind. Those who cannot afford to maintain a personal library at home—even a tiny one—can always turn to a public library.

Real libraries, in addition to e-libraries, are therefore undoubtedly valuable sources of vital knowledge and even entertainment for those who love reading. Anyone who loves words, therefore, can not only access the wealth of e-prints available online, but also create an environment of learning at home too, by investing in a small personal library. Reading from these tomes and other materials, as long as the printed word lives, will always enhance one’s knowledge base. By not allowing these actual libraries to fade away, one helps maintain an apt balance between e-reading and reading from real paper.

Starting at home, a library shall bring a different kind of focus back in one’s life, instead of a deep focus only on electronic reading. The significance of a personal library, is not only to enhance one’s home decor, but to further the art of reading, at home, by allowing family members and friends to join; and allowing words, sentences, passages, paragraphs, chapters, and as such books, to increase their wisdom, through gifts of quality literature.

Following are the words of Paris who is very enthusiastic about maintaining a library at home and will also share her views on personal as well as community libraries:

“I think my print book collection is in the region of 200 or so. Most of it is still in storage after my travels. I do still add physical books and magazines, though I try to restrain myself. My current living accommodations are quite small, so there is a space issue. But I find if I really want a book I will tell myself that, of course, there’s room!

On a practical level, moreover, some books aren’t available in e-format. As a history geek and writer, having my own small research library at hand is always useful and sometimes essential. Where such books are available electronically, it is not always easy to find a particular fact. Also, I like the look of physical books. They often have gorgeous cover art, for one thing.

I am not against e-readers. I have a Kindle myself, but I find I appreciate it for purely practical reasons. It is a small gadget that can hold a lot of books, which makes it perfect for travelling. I wish I’d had one when I was in Hong Kong a couple of years ago. I was there for a few months and amassed a number of books at that time and donated most of them to a second-hand bookshop in Wan Chai when I left. I dread to think what the excess baggage fee would have been otherwise.

While I am very fond of my e-reader, I would definitely keep my personal library. Many of my books have their own story to tell, beyond what is printed on their pages. Some are family heirlooms, handed down by my grandmother and wrapped in memories of her; others are signed by the author. Many of my books are re-readable.

For me, e-readers are utilitarian tools, without the emotional baggage of my print books. I think as e-readers become more popular and e-book prices come down (although I’m not holding my breath on that one) my personal library will still evolve. I will continue to buy print books by my favourite authors, but I will also download e-books. Price and space are important factors to consider.

I love libraries. I have fond memories of backpacking around Australia, picking up a book in a hostel in Alice Springs and leaving it in a hostel in Darwin. There was a lovely sense of community about it, a connection to other travellers who had read, and would read that same book. Back home, I am a frequent visitor to my local library. With my storage space issues and the fact that I couldn’t afford to buy every book I wanted to read, the library has become an important part of my life. I am also a member of my old university library, which has been invaluable for research.

On a wider scale, not everyone has an e-reader, so libraries can fill that gap. I find my home library comforting, in some indefinable way. My history, my outlook on the world, is in those books.”–Paris Franz, Journalist, historian and traveller, London

A library at home could be a physical mirror of what someone loves to collect, to read - a compilation of the matters that matter to them - and it should not just gradually disappear, but allowed to co-exist alongside the incredible world of e-reading.

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