Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Setting the Scene

Having just caught this exhibition at the Morgan before its run ended, I found myself thinking about the utility of spaces. The featured libraries (from public to ecclesiastical to academic) were stunning. Cavernous, gilt-edged marvels. But I couldn't imagine what it would be like to actually use them, as libraries. Movies have taught me that with places like these, what you really need to do is tear up their floors to access their catacombs. Because you never know.

Anyway, it made me consider what my bookstore requirements are. The places I enjoyed as a child were basically hazards. Dark, near silent, floor-to-ceiling stacks of moldering paper. And that introduction to books really stayed with me. While I can appreciate a clean, well-kept store now, too much light in a space unsettles me. Because I still appreciate cloistering, places that let you and others hide while browsing. What qualities do you look for and appreciate in your favorite book haunts?

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