The ideal sanctuary for books



In explaining how the act of reading can be likened to a drug-taking experience, the masterful essayist, stylist and author, E. B. White, noted how this “sort of ecstasy” could only be derived from literature “under ideal conditions”.

What exactly are these conditions? Are they similar to those unique requirements writers need to help them through the process of writing? Or are they universal – accessible to anyone and everyone of us?

Perhaps a clue lies in the conditions present in those most important centres of creativity and learning: the public library. These monuments to human thought and communication, which have that fascinating ability to function both as institution and metaphor. Of course, no library is alike, yet we ascribe them all a set of conforming features: studiousness, solitude and quiet, above all else.

From the earliest scholastic archives of writing at Ugarit of Ancient Egypt, libraries have been models…

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