.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Urban Junkie

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Rightful Reading Rights

“It has come to our notice that some members are misusing their membership and have been claiming to “lose” some of our precious books with the intention of keeping them for themselves. Such members are not just cheating us, they are depriving other honest members of their rights and reading pleasure. Let us make it clear that we shall not tolerate such behaviour, and all such thieves (yes, we do not hesitate to call them thieves, for that is what they are) shall be dispatched pronto”

Whether you are amused or alarmed by this notice, be assured that Eloor Lending Library means business. Reading this post by The One last night has left me neck-deep in Eloor nostalgia which I feel compelled to share with you.

Eloor Lending Library, as everyone knows (or should know) is the last bastion of Library Excellence. But more importantly, it is a vigilant upholder of Library Morality (for the lesser souls among us who lack an instinctive respect for library membership rules).

Signs such as the one above leap out at you from every corner. They stare at you from both ends of every aisle, lurk behind the Maughams and the Chandlers, and sit primly behind every check-out counter. I have always wanted to meet the writer of the Eloor notices. Compositions of utter brilliance, these signs, combining at once the taut grimness of best-in-class detective fiction and the unwavering sternness of Jane Eyre. No other library, in my view, manages to evoke the same awed respect with its notices. Consider, for example, this one spotted in a Gurgaon library last year:

Look, look, look
Don’t steal my book
Stealing is not a game
It is a big big shame

Just not the same, is it? Hardly the sort of stuff that terrifies truant library-book-pinchers into being on their best behaviour.

Eloor, on the other hand, has been responsible for remolding many young and misdirected lives. Mine too, I must shamefacedly confess. In my wayward, misspent youth I used to be a Late Returner of books. So late, in fact, that I had managed at one time to be classified as a Thief, having convinced Eloor that I intended never to return a certain book. I still have a copy of the letter that made me see the light. A letter that ended with

“It would be a pity to sever this beautiful relationship. Would you really want to lose forever the joy of borrowing from this library? You will, if you deny others that joy. In your best interests, we urge you to do what is Right and return the books immediately”.

I was, in other words, in danger of being dispatched pronto. Needless to say, the books were returned without further ado. Pronto, as it were.

It is a long time since I have been to Eloor. (Books are much easier to buy these days, now that I am no longer struggling at the bottom of the food chain). I am told the Eloor collection is no longer the same, although the Notices remain. The library has apparently degenerated into a swamp of Mills & Boons. What a pity, if it is true. I like to think of Eloor as the last bastion of Library Excellence, even if I am no longer a privileged member.

Site Meter