I went to the library today to return the books. I found this little library on the top floor of a shopping mall turned into a multi-purpose one-stop center for all local public services. There are still some shops for commercial purposes. The library is a branch of the main public library. It is conveniently located and those waiting for their legal documents to be processed or renewed can rest their feet and have a quiet reading time in this library. The librarian told me that this year’s membership is free. So I registered and borrowed six books. The maximum is fifteen for two weeks (on the presumption that we should read one book a day) and I may call them if I need extension before expiry. After extending twice I finally went there to return with no intention of borrowing anymore as I just do not seem to have time for their books. But the librarian persuaded me to re-borrow the one book that I did not manage to finish. He also persuaded me to go and look at the shelves and borrow more books than that one book. In the end I lingered longer and found six more books. So I have seven books for two weeks. When I left the library I was happy and not burdened. The bag of books seemed light and easy to bear. The librarian’s gentle persuasion and his holding fast to his love for this profession of books reading somehow affected me. True, every book on the shelves was written by someone who must have loved words. Writing books in general is not a profession that can create monetary wealth overnight. For many writers it does not even make ends meet. The books (usually in two copies only) remain new and untouched on the shelves even if they make it to the library. When I look at the page where they still stamp the dates I realize mine is the first one. How long have those books been waiting on the shelves? How long has the librarian been waiting for someone to come and agreed with him and borrow some, at least more than one perhaps? I am a book lover all my life. I collect books. I have my own personal library. I give away many books too. Perhaps others do the same. Perhaps that is why the public library is not being used that much in this country. I want to think of the bright side about books still being in demand by avid readers and collectors. Writing a book, getting it edited, printed and proof-read, formally published, marketed, sold and finally read by someone is a long and difficult process for many. It is like conceiving a baby, nurturing him or her to full term and finally giving birth. A book is a living being too. It takes a lot of nurturing to become what it is when reader reads it. Imagine a baby having been born in such painstaking way and then be left neglected, for years on a shelf. Unthinkable. So does a book. When I told the librarian I only wanted to re-borrow one book he had that sad look of despair. He had encountered many like me before. But he did not give up. I would consider this a good librarian. A man who knows the true worth of a book. He would go any length to promote and defend a worthy course.
I too long to see the day an individual who reads one book a day turns up.