...information wants to be free

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I love libraries. Not just that they have books, I love the fact that they lend them out, letting you read books you could never afford and (when functioning properly) are a beautiful slap-in-the-face for big business publishing. I particularly love the public libraries in Hamilton, with the free internet on wi-fi and fairly decent collections of music and video. Yes, yes, that means you can listen to music without always having to buy it. And no, that is not equivalent to piracy. The 'shhh' law is also sparingly applied, making it much more people friendly. They even have a blog, though I will not bother with a link as they are yet to figure *that one out yet. For almost the first time in my life, I feel no particular need to buy books. And I am happy.


Blind Dayze said...

I must admit i've never visited the National Library out here in Kolkata..it's i think the largest library in our country [India].. but i guess it's not too updated Tech wise like what you've got out there in Hamilton...

feddabonn said...

possibly not. may have an older/deeper collection though!

ruolngulworld said...

Never thought of libraries as 'slap-in-the-face for big publishers. good one and quite true. wonder if that's why we don't have more good libraries? i was a member and a regular at the British Libraries in Rabat and Maputo. though they had a limited number of books, they had some really good ones. and we loved their video collection of bbc dramas which we really enjoyed. i had just discovered pg wodehouse back then and i'll forever remember the BL for for their collection of his works....bertie wooster, jeeves, blandings castle....

feddabonn said...

hmm. i hadn't thought of connecting the lack of good libraries with publisher's and their clout! possibly many reasons for the lack, but this may be worth looking into.

having said that, i haven't known a 'bad' library. the government ones in guwahati and shillong were quite good. and hyderabad is full of second hand books, though in retrospect i really should have headed to the library. the british library in bangy is/was nice, but seemed to have only british writers!

indianhomemaker said...

Wow never looked at it this way, but you are right... These days we have places like Landmark and Crossword that let you sit and read if you can't afford to buy a book! That is also a blessing ...even if they make better sale in the process :)

feddabonn said...

agree they are quite handy, IHM. it does concern me, though, that the action we associate with books is increasingly 'buying', not 'borrowing'. we had brilliant libraries when i was growing up- bishnu nirlama children's library in guwahati and the state central library in shillong.

sadly i fell for the 'buy' idea in bangalore and hyderabad, though there must be some very good libraries there too- if i had looked. i'm glad to be back in 'borrow' land now!

feddabonn said...

just realised how inconsistent this was with what i just said: "For almost the first time in my life, I feel no particular need to buy books."

in spite of the libraries i *did constantly try to 'own' books. glad am off that trip now, anyway!

Joe Pinto said...

My dear baruk,

I prefer the smaller "baruk" to the bigger "feddabonn". Having got used to your long posts, I'm sorry now I skipped your small one. With a long weekend -- Friday-Sunday -- I'm catching up with my dear Baruk.

I wish I could agree with you that free libraries letting you lend or borrow books is "a beautiful slap-in-the-face" for Big Business Publishing (BBP).

But the BBP are far more enlightened about promoting their own interests than we realise or can guess.

Let me say that you should look at the laws regarding borrowing and lending books and the royalties paid to writers on the books borrowed by the reading public.

I used the free Central Public Library in Leeds, Yorkshire, England, for three years during 1990-93. I was one of its few readers who would always borrow the maximum ten books that we were allowed every time!

To start with, I too was as naive as you are now. ("Naive" is a good, honest place when you take the first step; but it is the worst rut to be stuck in.) Add sceptic to naive, baruk, and you have a real live human being.

So I quickly realised there was a Lending Act and that writers were paid a small sum every time a member of the public borrowed their book. In the long run, this practice worked to the benefit of the publisher too, as it was another accurate way of assessing the popularity of a book, rather going by the manipulated best-seller lists.

Publishers actually compiled best-borrowed book lists, and assiduously concealed this vital information from the public. The mass media was too obsessed with celebrities to care about such data.

My dear baruk, I hope you investigate with scepticism everything in NZ with your own -- two beautiful eyes, two trustworthy ears and a big, long, curious nose.

Big business, in general,is too intelligent for us to comprehend at first glance. They think far, far ahead. We, in India, are the stupid, short-sighted ones: not supporting free public libraries.

Let me place it on record here on your blog: I was a humble member of the free public libraries, run by the great British Library in Leeds. I shall always be grateful and indebted to them.

But I never was and never will be a member of the "paid membership" libraries, run by the British Library in India. I have said it before and say it openly now: sheer hypocrisy - running a free library system in Britain (and Australia and NZ, still colonies of the British with the Queen still as the Head of State) and making people pay in India and other former colonies of the British empire.

The Thatcherites in UK and the Reaganites in USA did try to dismantle the free public library system; but have not succeeded completely due to the far-sighted strategy of BBP.

This issue deserves far more research and investigation, dear baruk, before we proceed.

Meanwhile, and till it lasts, enjoy the free reading and book-borrowing that all the working peoples of the world deserve and Tom Paine struggled for throughout his heroic life.

Peace and love,
- Joe.

feddabonn said...

namaskaru, joe, good to have you here.

you are quite right about the intelligence of big business, and this warning is timely. it is easy to forget the sheer size of the beast.

i am rather of the opinion that the lending act makes sense, because the money goes to the author, not the publishing house. do we have a similar act in india, do you know?

it is not so much the publishing houses i hate, but the way they exploit both readers AND authors to make as much profit as they can.