02 October 2012

The Red Room at UCL

UCL Scandinavian Studies has transformed the North Lodge at the Gower Street entrance to the college
into a "red room" as a venue for talks to mark the centenary of the death of  August Strindberg (1849-1912) - author and so much more besides. Various events are listed on the website.

Today Sarah Wingate Gray talked about "The Poetics of the Library".  I've often quoted the saying: "Once a librarian, always a librarian"; although I haven't worked as a librarian for some decades, I'm still interested in the organisation, preservation, and sharing of books, information, and knowledge - but more so, I was interested to hear about the current climate of librarianship, especially about user participation in libraries, about their needs and desires, conversations in communities, the "reality" of fictional others, transmissibility, SoLoMo (social, local, mobile) libraries - and not yet knowingly needed knowledge.

Ranganathan - how could I have forgotten S.R. Ranganathan and his five laws of library science (1931)? (He happens to have studied at UCL, what's more.)

  1. Books are for use.
  2. Every reader his [or her] book.
  3. Every book its reader.
  4. Save the time of the reader.
  5. The library is a growing organism.


This next list, from my notes on the talk, is of unusual libraries:
- The Library of Lost Books
- Wildgoose Memorial Library
- Chicago Underground Library
Mile High Reference Desk
- Occupy Wall Street Library
- Boston A to Z
- Street Books

Also to mention : the Epilogue documentary on the future of print; Let Them Sing It For You (the demo needs Quicktime to play); and, the idea that poems endure as presences - they become a companion spirit (doesn't that make you want to memorise a few?)

Sarah brought along a travelling poetry library, which included a book of erasure poetry I've seen on the internet, Jen Bervin's Nets -
How marvellous to hold "the real thing" and flip through it, stopping when something catches your eye! I was very excited about this wonderful surprise.

The Itinerant Poetry Library will be at the Red Room 3pm-6pm on Thursday - which happens to be National Poetry Day.

The North Lodge is a small and very pleasant space; it contains a "Strindberg resource" that mixes old and new materials -
Visitors are encouraged to type something -
or to sit in a comfy armchair and annotate copies of The Red Room (1879), Strindberg's most famous novel -
or read the other materials in the suitcase. I did read a bit of the novel - it conveniently opened to a page introducing two characters making, or trying to make, a living from art according to their temperaments (after all, Strindberg was a painter as well as a writer). The annotation will have to wait for another day; I couldn't quite bring myself to "deface" the book, even though it's "allowed" here...

On the wall, for those (like me) who should know a bit more about this famous person, are engaging bits of information -
 And outside, all the excitement of the first week of the new university year is going on -

1 comment:

irenemacwilliam said...

Your blog report says "Visitors are encouraged to type something" -

typewriters again, 2 posts with mention of them in 3 days. Is this the future technology we are looking at!??
Irene