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Posts tagged "libraries"
From the Sacramento Daily Union, 6 June 1885:
Many of Napoleon’s biographers have incidentally mentioned that he […] used to carry about a certain number of favorite books wherever he went, whether traveling or camping; but it is not generally known that he made several plans for the construction of portable libraries which were to form part of his baggage. Some interesting information upon this head is given us by M. Louis Barbier, who for many years had the care of the Louvre Library, and who bases his information upon sonic memoirs left by his father, who was librarian to Napoleon himself. For a long time Napoleon used to carry about the books he required in several boxes holding about sixty volumes each. These volumes, which were either octavo or duodecimo, stood upon shelves inside the boxes, which were supplied by the well-known cabinetmaker, Jacob. They were made of mahogany at first, but as it was found that this was not strong enough for the knocking about they had to sustain, M. Barbier bad them made of oak and covered with leather. The inside was lined with green leather or velvet, and the books were bound in morocco. There was a catalogue for each case, with a corresponding number upon every volume, so that there was never a moment’s delay in picking out any book that was wanted. As soon as the Emperor had selected his headquarters during a campaign these cases were placed in the room which was intended to be his study, together with the portfolios containing his letters and maps. In course of time, however, Napoleon found that many books which he wanted to consult were not included in the collection, and upon Inquiring the reason ; was informed that they would not fit into the cases. This, of course, was an answer which did not satisfy one so imperious, and, while residing at Bayonne in 1808, he dictated the following memoir, which was sent to M. Barbier: ” Bayonne, July 8, 1803. The Emperor wishes you to form a traveling library of one thousand volumes in small 12mo and printed in handsome type. It is his Majesty’s intention to have these works printed for his special use, and in order to economize space there is to be no margin to them. They should contain from five hundred to six hundred pages, and be bound in covers as flexible as possible and with spring backs. There should be forty works on religion, forty dramatic works, forty volumes of epic and sixty of other poetry, one hundred novels and sixty volumes of history, tiio remainder being historical memoirs of every period.”
…the tall stacks of 5,000 books that towered in the main room last school year are gone. Teachers brought a few into classrooms, but most were donated to schools in Africa. Now the room is filled with tables and chairs where students gather with their school laptops.
You know, they had a name for this kind of room when I was in high school: it was called study hall, and we held it in the cafeteria.
There’s a lot to be sad about in this article, like the student who admits, “I never really used the actual library before. I’m a senior in high school and never used a book.”
But even more terrifying to me: “This generation of kids … learning is a social experience for them.”
My learning in the library was very social, if you count socializing with dead people.
I’m a supreme extrovert, and yet I despised group work and never felt like I learned anything from my classmates, other than, you know, that I wanted to move the fuck away from home and get away from all of them. (Maybe I’m just a dick — I do believe that all art requires a certain amount of misanthropy…)
God, when I think of the hours I’ve spent in libraries, just following the scent of paper trails and wandering around, bumping into books… is my kid not going to experience this?
And as for social learning: the best formal education I got was 6 months of the tutorial system at Cambridge University, in which I read all week at the massive library or in my Raskolnikovian closet of a room, wrote a paper, emailed it to my tutor, walked over to his house and talked about it for an hour, then went off to pick up the books he gave me to read the next week. The only group work I did was play keyboards in a band and go get pissed at the pub. It was glorious.