libraries & archives

The Mundaneum

July 22, 2018 0 Comments
The Mundaneum

Until last week I’d never heard of the Mundaneum.  But it’s such an exceptional institution that it deserves to be much better known. To visit the Mundaneum as it is today you need to go the Wallonian city of Mons and search out the Rue de Nimy.  There, in an adapted department store, you’ll find […]

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Popeth yn Gymraeg, yn llythrennol

February 2, 2018 0 Comments
Popeth yn Gymraeg, yn llythrennol

Beth sydd ei angen er mwyn cyrraedd miliwn o siaradwyr Cymraeg erbyn y flwyddyn 2050?  Llawer o bethau, heb os, ond un ohonynt yw cynnydd mawr iawn yn y maint o’r deunydd yn Gymraeg sydd ar gael i bobl – pethau i’w darllen, i’w gweld, i’w glywed. Ystyr ‘ar gael’, y dyddiau hyn wrth gwrs, […]

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Reading and silence

August 20, 2017 1 Comment
Reading and silence

I’m working my way, slowly – that seems the best way – through Sara Maitland’s A book of silence, and I’ve reached the part where she discusses the paradoxical relationship between reading and silence.  On the one hand, reading the way we do it today is a silent communion between writer and reader.  Silent, on […]

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Micromuseums

April 15, 2017 1 Comment
Micromuseums

Micromuseum is a new word for me.  But that was the topic of a presentation to the Friends of the Glynn Vivian last week by Fiona Candlin of Birbeck College.  It was the ideal talk – funny and self-deprecating but full of ideas that rattled your lazy assumptions about what museums are about.  And it […]

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The destruction of culture: a plea to Swansea Council

March 13, 2016 7 Comments
The destruction of culture: a plea to Swansea Council

What makes a city a city?  I mean, in the sense of a particular, distinctive city.  Its people, certainly, its geography, landscape and architecture, also its economy and politics.  But what really sets a city apart from its neighbours is its culture – that network of traditions, customs, institutions and habits, most of them with […]

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Moby-Dick and the poor devil of a Sub-Sub

November 15, 2015 1 Comment
Moby-Dick and the poor devil of a Sub-Sub

Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick (1851) is a book that, once read, will never leave you. Its themes are as close as a book’s themes can be to the essence of being human. Its symbol – ‘symbol’ is a poor choice of word – of the great white whale will stalk your imagination, waking or asleep, for […]

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The beautiful librarians are dead: academic librarians and the crisis in public libraries

June 28, 2015 6 Comments
The beautiful librarians are dead: academic librarians and the crisis in public libraries

An adapted version of a talk given to Welsh academic librarians at the WHELF Gregynog Colloquium on 15 June 2015. The city of Kingston upon Hull is famous for its poets, among them Andrew Marvell in the seventeenth century, and Douglas Dunn and Philip Larkin in the twentieth. Hull’s best known contemporary poet is Sean […]

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The value of being open

June 18, 2015 0 Comments
The value of being open

The adapted text of a response to the award of an honorary doctorate by the Open University in a graduation ceremony held in the Wales Millennium Centre on 12 June 2015. Annwyl gyfeillion, rhaid imi ddweud ar y cychwyn ei bod hi’n anrhydedd anhygoel imi dderbyn y radd hon heddiw. I mi mae’r Brifysgol Agored […]

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Books and their readers defend Cardiff libraries

February 7, 2015 1 Comment
Books and their readers defend Cardiff libraries

This afternoon hundreds of people from Cardiff and some from beyond came together outside the Central Library in The Hayes to protest against Cardiff Council’s decision to close six of its libraries and further diminish the Central Library.  Many speakers, including writers like writers like Gwyneth Lewis, Jo Mazelis, Fran Rhydderch and Labi Siffre, emphasised […]

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