Library as Samarkand


From the Guardian, a piece by Germaine Greer, Austrian feminist and author of The Female Eunuch, on how Libraries were Samarkand for girls of past centuries. "For all those unschooled girls, who sat atop library ladders devouring their fathers' and brothers' books without permission, the library was Samarkand. Excitement, adventure, happiness bloomed in the sunlight filtered through tight-drawn linen blinds, as they gathered up treasure that no one could steal."

The author goes on to explain how she prefers to find her adventures in the books, not the buildings that contain them.


Dear all, sit down and take a deep breath ... Germaine Greer is *Australian*, not *Austrian*. It's an easy mistake to make, even beyond mere typography. Australia is the great big lump of dirt sitting midway between the Asian sub-continent and Antarctica; Austria is the small lump of mountains in Europe sort of adjoining Switzerland and Germany.

If geography isn't your strong point, maybe linguistics is. In Austria, the national language is German; in Australia, despite its increasingly notable multiculturalism, the national language is English.

Politically, Australia is an ally of the USA, for goodness sakes, we even went into Iraq with the US both historically and though the ANZUS treaty. But don't get me started on that. Austria in contrast, was the birthplace of a number of folk who featured heavily in the Nuremberg Trials (not the movie, the real thing). *Austria* was also the birthplace of some pretty OK folk, plus the Governor of California, maybe a few others - I didn't look it up, to be honest.

*Australia* however, gave the world the Bee Gees, Russel Crowe, Olivier Newton-John, Nicole Kidman, Thomas Kenneally (author of Schindler's Ark/List, et al), about 50% of the Minnasota Twins, The Warrior Librarian, a few million others, plus the said Germaine Greer.

I hope this information has been useful. I'm in a reference kind of mood - I've got to get away from the desk more often ...

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