Thursday, March 13, 2008

Books and Reading initiative in Woodford Library

The public library in Woodford has just reopened its doors in the new Credit Union building in the town. In late 2004, the Naomh Brendain Credit Union, Loughrea bought the old Bank of Ireland premises in Woodford and undertook a splendid refurbishment at a cost of over €100,000.
The decision of the Loughrea Credit Union to share its building with the library service is a fine example of Credit Union operating principles in action, principles which are based on "the concept of human development, expressed through people working together to achieve a better life for themselves and their children."

And to inaugurate the service in its new location, the County Library has placed on the shelves of the Woodford Library, a set of beautifully bound hardcover books with decorative endpapers, silk ribbon markers, and European-style half-round spines. This selection of 100 of the bestselling titles from the Everyman Series, provides in Woodford an enduring hardcover library of classic and contemporary works from literature to history to philosophy.
And they are in keeping with the original 1906 Everyman belief of publishing books which would appeal to "to every kind of reader: the worker, the student, the cultured man, the child, the man and the woman."

Included in the collection in Woodford are:
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky of which Orhan Pamuk a recent Nobel prize winner has written: 'I have a vivid memory of reading The Brothers Karamazov at the age of eighteen, alone in my room, in a house which looked out over the Bosphorous....I felt as if its most shocking revelations were thoughts I'd entertained myself. I felt as if Dostoyevsky were whispering arcane things about life and humanity, things that no one knew, for my ears only: I felt like saying, I am reading a book that shocks me deeply and will change my entire life.'

And there is Madame Bovary. "What was her name, her home, her life, her past?" wonders Frédéric Moreau, in Flaubert's great novel, on seeing Madame Arnoux for the first time. It still astonishes. If one were to ask, "World, which is the most perfect novel ever written?, the world would immediately answer: Madame Bovary.' Clive James tells us: 'The first thing to say about Madame Bovary is that it's a terrific story. As a story, Madame Bovary is fit for worship'. The critic Michael Dirda even went so far as to say that "not to know such a masterpiece is to live a diminished life."
Also included is Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, the man who ruled the Roman Empire at its height, and knew the secret of how to live the good life amid trying and often catastrophic circumstances. This important piece of ancient literature is as relevant today as it was in the second century. It speaks to the soul of anyone who has ever faced adversity or believed in a better day.

And that is just three of the books. Galway’s writer-in residence, the poet Michael O’Loughlin, will be in Woodford Library on Thursday night April 10th at 8.00pm when he will introduce and talk about some of the very interesting books in this Everyman collection.
Admission is free, and we would like as many people as possible to participate. However, as the library space in Woodford is small, admission will need to be notified to us in advance. You may do this by emailing or by telephoning 091-562471, or by leaving your name into Woodford Library.
In the course of a recent RTÉ radio documentary the Ballinasloe born writer Desmond Hogan said "then I started writing little stories. The library in Ballinasloe had Katherine Anne Porter, had Katherine Mansfield, had Scott Fitzgerald, had Willa Cather. Those writers, that quartet of writers, have stayed with me from Ballinasloe library all my life. They have never diminished. They’ve been great companions."
And he suggested that the experience of the library and conversations about books and writers on benches by the river and by the little canals in Ballinasloe gave "a real sense of the university of the town." That was a real education," he said. "What came afterwards was not education."
Perhaps the Everyman collection of books might provide readers who use the Woodford Library with the same experience, giving some sense of "the university of the town," and providing an opportunity for "real education."

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