libraries & archives

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 0 Comments
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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Cardiff Central Library: defend it or lose it!

February 1, 2015 1 Comment
Cardiff Central Library: defend it or lose it!

1    What has been lost “It’s hard not to feel utterly despondent at the current plight of public libraries. Along with the NHS and the BBC, our libraries are some of the few truly remarkable British institutions left. So often absolutely ordinary in appearance, a good library should offer escape routes down the most extraordinary […]

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Cardiff libraries: a Council dispossesses its people

January 25, 2015 24 Comments
Cardiff libraries: a Council dispossesses its people

Cardiff is a thriving place. Big new developments are announced almost monthly. Recent ones include the new BBC Cymru Wales building near the station, the electrification of the Valleys railway lines and the massive Embankment complex. But while the Council pours resources into stimulating and supporting commercial growth, it leaves some of its basic public […]

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