Private Libraries… Bring Them Back!

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Joe Kissell’s Interesting Thing of the Day (which I previously recommended) recently discussed private libraries. As a lifelong bibliophile this sounds like a little taste of paradise:

“Why would I pay to go to the Mechanics’ Institute Library [a private library in San Francisco] when there is a perfectly good public library in town that’s much larger, closer to where I live, and free? That’s a bit like asking why I’d eat at a small, out of the way, expensive French restaurant when there’s a perfectly good mall food court nearby. In other words: you get what you pay for. When I go to the Mechanics’ Institute, I know that I will be walking into a clean, quiet, beautiful setting filled with great books—as well as intelligent and thoughtful people who, like me, care enough about the quality of their library experience to pay for it. Both patrons and staff take books very seriously—much more so, on average, than what I’ve seen in public libraries.”

Is there a private library near you? (Scroll to the bottom.) Also see Mr. Kissell’s discussion of the ancient Bodleian Library.

2:31 pm on October 21, 2004