A Lovely Quotation … and a Heartfelt Plea …

“Yesterday all day long I lay on the grass in front of the door and watched the white clouds slowly passing one after the other at long, lazy intervals over the tops of the delphiniums I planted all those years ago. I didn’t think of anything; I just lay there in the hot sun, blinking up and counting the intervals between one spike being reached and the next. I was conscious of the colour of the delphiniums, jabbing up stark into the sky, and of how blue they were; and yet not so blue, so deeply and radiantly blue, as the sky. Behind them was the great basin of space filled with that other blue of the air, that lovely blue with violet shades in it; for the mountain I am on drops sharply away from the edge of my tiny terrace-garden, and the whole of the space between it and the mountains opposite brims all day long with blue and violet light…”

from In The Mountains by Elizabeth Von Arnim

Lovely to read on a grey showery day in Cornwall!

Ali inspired me to start re-reading Elizabeth Von Arnim and, as well as pulling a book out of my Virago bookcase, I checked the library catalogue, just in case they had a book tucked away that I didn’t have. They did, and Into The Mountains looks wonderful. I shall read more just as soon as I have finished one or two of the silly number of books I have part-read.

And that brings me to the plea. Please check your library catalogue for interesting books that might be in stock but not on the shelves.

You may just find some gems, and in these days of service cuts those older books that wise librarians tucked away for future generations would be terribly easy to sell without too many people noticing or making a fuss.

I suspect that might already be happening in Cornwall.

But a copy of Faster! Faster! by E M Delafield has disappeared from the catalogue. And I’m sure that there used to be more Ann Bridge titles than there are now.

Of course I might just be a little paranoid. But there are some wonderful books in stock that should be kept for future generations of readers to borrow.

I love Slightly Foxed Editions, but so many of them had already sold out by the time I had a job and could think of making the investment. But I started checking the library catalogue and I’ve ordered in Blue Remembered Hills by Rosemary Sutcliffe and My Grandmother and I by Diana Holman-Hunt. There are a couple more in stock, but I have to hold off ordering until I have a little more space on my ticket.

A few days ago, when I was in the mood to browse, I spotted Ooty Preserved by Mollie Panter-Downes. I knew nothing at all about the book, but I was happy to take anything by such a wonderful, wonderful writer on trust.

I spotted a copy of White Ladies by Francis Brett Young in a bookshop, and it looked rather interesting. But I couldn’t justify the cost – it was a signed first edition – and so I checked the library catalogue. There was a copy in the fiction reserve!

The name Pamela Hansford Johnson rang a bell when I saw it in the Bello Books catalogue. Her books were on the shelf when I first moved from the junior library to the adult shelves; back then they looked rather serious and grown-up and so I didn’t pick them up. And now I’m curious, but a little wary of investing in new books by an author I’m not quite sure about. So I checked the library catalogue, invested 50p for a reservation and the novel that caught my eye – Catherine Carter – has just arrived.

So it really is worth taking a good look around your library’s catalogue …

7 responses

  1. It’s sad to think that books are disappearing from the library catalogue. I haven’t noticed anything going from Surrey’s system, but I could believe it. I order quite a lot from the back catalogue already, but agree it is important for everyone to use their library as much as possible.

  2. Books have to be weeded because that is a part of the library’s service to keep current and relevant information on the shelves. However, it would be nice if they had the room to keep those classic books, first editions and such available to their patrons. My county library has a huge basement where a lot of there “pulled” inventory goes. As a librarian, myself, I have had to weed a collection that was neglected for almost 7 years and it was painful but much needed. My only source of consolation was that many of the pulled books went into the welcoming arms of many young readers!

  3. You raised some important points…thank you! I am a devoted patron of the public library, and had not seriously considered the literary gems that may be sold or donated at book sales to make room for the up and coming titles. It is great fun to discover, as you did, unknown titles by authors we love. I will do some more exploring through the catalog! As an aside, hopefully the people who do purchase those “oldies but goodies” will treasure them or pass them along to appreciative homes.
    Beth 🙂

  4. I’ve complained at length about our library’s policy of weeding out books – when I moved to Northumberland (and a very small house) I parted with all my Elizabeth Goudge books, because I had never known a library not to have them – now I’ve bought them them all again. I looked at our catalogue – the only D.E. Stevenson is in audiobooks, only The Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield, no Pamela Hansford Johnson, one Ann Bridge, they’ve never heard of S.F. Editions…

  5. Oh how lovely! Glad I inspired you : ) I think the slightly foxed editions are lovely – but they don’t print many copies do they.
    White ladies is a lovely Francis Brett Young novel – I am excited you read him – I have read several and in the main loved them. Liz and I joined the FBY society in order to support them as I know one of the founding members of it. FBY was a local author and I am interested in him for that reason. Liz and I once went to a FBY day with the society, we were the youngest people there by about 3 decades! But were made so welcome and we fell in love with Chaddesley Corbet a village that was the inspiration behind FBY’s This Little World. I must read some more FBY soon I have a couple TBR.

  6. Unfortunately my library does not a have a reserve system. Once a title is gone, it is gone. We have such limited space that we have to constantly weed. My branch just remodeled in the fall and we lost 20% of our shelving – most of it in adult fiction. The amount of books we had to weed to prepare was astounding! There was even an expose in the local paper about it. We were all pretty devastated with the loss, but the people in charge gave us the directive and we really had no choice. I wish there was a way that we could keep classics safe from the process, but if they don’t check out they have no value. It is the nature of a popular collection, I’m afraid.

  7. I think that North Yorkshire libraries must have a capacious basement somewhere because there are some real treasures tucked away in the county reserve – many out of print otherwise!
    My late mum put me on to Pamela Hansford Johnson’s books years ago and quite a few other authors from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s as she was a devoted reader. I don’t know the book you mention so I will be interested to hear what you think

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