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Created and Maintained by
A.B. Credaro
October, 2001
April 15, 2002

Libraries: Gardens for the Intellect
Amanda Credaro ©2003
Commissioned by U*N*A*B*A*S*H*E*D* Librarian (126)

Consider for a moment, the rose. A wonderful flower, known for eons – and not only decorative, but also useful for many purposes. And so many varieties – not only in color, but also size, shape, height, but also different cultivars. Standard or weeping. Espaliered, even. Those more knowledgeable in matters horticultural will tell you of the ‘old fashioned’, ‘tea’, climbing, and a vast array of hybrids.

But it’s the horns that are particularly interesting. There’s the little sneaky ones that bury themselves under the skin and require medical intervention to remove. They’re much worse than the great thorny barbs that you can see from a mile away. Those you can’t eliminate can largely be avoided; or if not, dealt with providing you have a sufficient time, personnel, and a budget allowance for the necessary equipment.

Does this sound like something else? Our libraries, perhaps?

Just like roses, there is a variety of library suitable for almost every location; but they all need nurturing. Library collections need regular pruning, and the living plants (and libraries) are not immortal. Neglect (in roses or libraries) will eventually lead to decay, fungal and pest attack, and ultimately mortification.

The world will still turn if roses, or libraries, were to suddenly cease to exist. But wouldn’t our lives be so much the poorer for their absence? They enrich our psyche through their mere existence; they cater to quiet contemplation and reflection. Each in their own way is so much more than a decorative diversion, although they also fulfil that role.

It seems strange that so many municipalities would not tolerate a park full of dying or dead flowers, but don’t seem to appreciate some of their libraries are in an equivalent state. Ageing collections are not being updated at a sufficient rate to accommodate the rapid growth in the volume of information, scientific and medical research, changing reading preferences. Staffing is being cut, thereby reducing the number of ‘gardeners’ – and reducing opening hours. Salaries are insufficient to attract the best and brightest new recruits to our profession.

It is ironic that it is our detractors who are addressing some of these problems – with their regular applications of fertilizer.

Further Reading:

Yates, A. (1988). Roses. Yates Gardening Guide. William Collins, Sydney. pp 253 – 257.

To correctly cite this page:
Credaro,A.B.(2003). Libraries: Gardens for the Intellect. Warrior Librarian Weekly [online] [Accessed:insert date]