Spooks and booksSaturday, February 04, 2006
The idea of a public library that you can enter and then exit with book in hand is a relatively modern phenomenon that came late to my country of birth, Argentina, and to Mexico where I lived for many years in the 50s and 60s. In both countries public libraries were places where you read books inside but you could not leave with them. My first experience of taking a book home happened around 1952, when I walked out of the Lincoln Library in Buenos Aires with a book of American civil war photographs. When this US Information Service Library (there were spooks who worked out of these libraries) was not being bombed or stoned by angry Argentine students it was a great place to discover the Hardy Boys and Tom Corbett- Space Cadet. At the Benjamin Franklin Library in Mexico City not only could I borrow books, but on Mondays I could listen to American jazz played with something called high fidelity that involved a device called a turntable. Gerry Hulse was our host and from him I found out about Gerry Mulligan's pianoless quartets. Gerry Hulse moved on to writing travel stories for the LA Times (a good cover for a spook!). Thanks to the Americans I came to love libraries. I borrowed somewhere around 37 novels by Phillip K Dick from the North Burnaby Branch of public library in the 70s. I love Moshe Safdie's main branch of the Vancouver Public Library.