On Libraries Essay Summary

In the essay ‘On Libraries’, the essayist Oliver Sacks maintains the importance of the library in shaping the life of a person. The essay begins with the speaker (the writer) stating his journey of exploring libraries started from his own home library. From a very early age, the speaker used to get absorbed with the books in the home library. His father and mother had different shelves for different books with their own interests.

The writer in the essay mentions that there was a library in his neighbourhood too – Willesden Public Library. The writer further makes his own confession that though he found lecture classes boring at the schools, however, he was good at reading books. Later it was in the majestic Oxford libraries where he found all sorts of books that interested him the most. While Sacks found at the library self-directed learners, he also found that these seemingly self-observant people having a surprising sense of community, which became a lovely complement to his newfound intellectual autonomy.

The writer later with time developed more interest in the sciences, especially astronomy and chemistry. The writer after entering into university got access to two great university libraries in Oxford. When he was visiting the Bodleian Library, he found the books of Theodore Hook. He was so impressed by the Hook that he decided to write a sort of biography of him. The British Museum Library provided him with the materials needed for his works on biography.

The writer also visited the two great Oxford’s libraries are the Radcliffe Science Library and the Bodleian Library. However, it was the library at Queen’s College that the writer admires the most. The magnificent building and the freely and readily available ancient books of great scholars, such as Gesner, Durer, Darwin, Pope, Dryden and many others have made the writer enchanted with this library.

The writer recalls his hardships to read and write in his small and uncomfortable apartment. Luckily, he found a place to read and write in the library of Albert College of Medicine where he used to work. The writer mentions the library to be quiet. People in this library were intimate with each other that developed a sense of community. He mentions how the students started ignoring the books which resulted in the books being unnecessary and were disposed of. The writer was unknown about the condition of libraries lately and he was horrified when he visited the library and found the shelves to be sparsely occupied. The writer mentions his difficulty to use books and such books could never be to the level of physical books.

On Libraries Exercises Solution

Understanding the Text

Answer the following questions.

a.Where could the author be found when he was late for lunch or dinner? 

Ans.: The author could be found in a library completely absorbed by a book when he was late for lunch or dinner.

b.What are his first memories? 

Ans.: His first memories comprise books, libraries and his learning to read early at three or four.

c.Why did he dislike school? 

Ans.: He disliked school because he did not like sitting in a class and receiving instruction from teachers passively as he could not grasp the teacher’s lecture with full concentration. He rather liked reading himself being active and in his own way.

d.What did he feel about at the library? 

Ans.: He felt free at the library as he could look at tens of thousands of books freely and he liked to roam and enjoy the atmosphere and quiet companionship of other readers. He liked freedom about everything in the library.

e.Why was he so biased about sciences especially astronomy and chemistry? 

Ans.: He was so biased about sciences especially astronomy and chemistry because of his growing compassion and hunger for these sorts of books with his growing age.

f.Why did he become so fascinated by Hook ? 

Ans.: He became so fascinated by Hook because Hook was a greatly admired man of the nineteenth century, for his wit and his genius concept for theatrical and musical improvisation. Hook was said to have composed more than five hundred operas on the spot.

g.Describe library at the Queen’s College. 

Ans.: The library at Queen’s College is one of the most loved libraries in Oxford. The library has a magnificent building designed by Christopher Wren, and beneath this, in an underground maze of heating pipes and shelves, were the vast subterranean holding of the library. One can visit the library and hold and read the ancient books of great scholars, such as Gesner, Durer, Darwin, Pope, Dryden and many others. And, all these books, are freely available, not in some special, locked-away rarer books enclave, but just sitting on the shelves, as they had done since the original publication.

h.Why did the students ignore the bookshelves in the 1990s? 

Ans.: The students ignored the bookshelves in the 1990s because they could easily access their needs on a computer.

i.Why was he horrified when he visited the library a couple of months ago? 

Ans.: He was horrified when he visited the library a couple of months ago because the shelves in the library that used to be once overflowing were sparsely occupied. Though the books had been digitized, the speaker was not used to them.

Reference to the context

a.The author says, “I was not a good pupil, but I was a good learner.” Justify it with the textual evidences. 

Ans.: In the essay ‘On Libraries’ by Oliver Sacks, the author is very fond of reading books in the library. He used to get so absorbed with the books that he even used to be late for his dinner and lunch. The author in the text doesn’t consider himself as a good pupil or a student. He mentions in the text that he disliked school, sitting in the class, and receiving instructions from his teachers because he considers such activities as passive study with very little concentration.

He rather likes an active form of study where an individual reads and learns by himself without depending upon others as if reading books in the library. So, lacking the qualities of a good and disciplined student who loves to attend class and strictly follows the instructions given by teachers, he considers himself as not being a good pupil. While at the same time, he finds himself as a good learner because he has a hunger for learning and reading books and was never bored with this phenomenon.

b.A proverb says, “Nothing is pleasanter than exploring a library.” Does this proverb apply in the essay? Explain. 

Ans.: A library is a place where an individual can read several books and it can also be a quite good place for a bibliophile – one who likes to collect books. In the text, the author seems to be a good book reader and he seems to be in love with libraries and books as he had mentioned that he got connected with so many libraries.

Moreover, as gateways to knowledge and culture, libraries play a fundamental role in society. The resources and services they offer create opportunities for learning, support literacy and education, and help shape the new ideas and perspectives that are central to a creative and innovative society. Also, libraries do not possess extreme restrictions like that of school – the people who find schools boring can spend their time happily reading books in libraries. You can roam freely,

read books freely and there is no pressure from anybody but the only thing you should consider is peace. In the essay, the writer shows his love for books and consider the library as a temple. So, the given proverb definitely applies in the essay.

c.Are there any other services that you would like to see added to the library? 

Ans: A library is a collection or a group of collection of books and other print or non-print materials organized and maintained for use. From a traditional point of view, libraries are thought to be only connected with books as most of the portions of the library possess books. In my opinion, a few other services that should be added to libraries are:

i. Computers

Computers are very popular electronic devices that need to be added to the library. The computers in the library should provide the access to the readers to read the books that have the digitized form. Doing so, greatly helps the readers who love to read the books on screen than on paper. Likewise, a computer can be a great means to store the data and information both about the books as well as the members and their membership.

ii. IT Services

The library should provide free internet access to its members. Users want to use their own devices in a library in order to get more information. So, providing good IT services helps people do their work while in the library.

iii. A Café

It is often said that a book with a coffee gives you a heavenly feeling. People can seat in a café and enjoy reading books and their food at the same time. It makes people more engaging, relaxed and makes their reading full of pleasure.

iv. Book Festivals

I would be more delighted if the concept of book festivals could be organized within the premise of the library. When people visit the library and select the books they like, they could be bought easily with a reasonable amount of discount.

Reference beyond the text

a. Write an essay on Libraries and its uses for students. 


Libraries and its Uses for Students

A library is a building or room containing collections of books, periodicals and sometimes films and recorded music for use or borrowing by the public or the members of an institution.

A library is a very useful platform that brings together people willing to learn. It helps the students in learning and expanding their knowledge. The students develop their reading habits from a library and satisfy their thirst and curiosity for knowledge. This helps in the personal growth and development of a student.

Similarly, libraries provide authentic and reliable sources of information for research students. They are able to complete their papers and carry out their studies using the

material present in a library. Furthermore, libraries are a great place for studying alone or even in groups, without any disturbance.

Moreover, libraries also help in increasing the students’ concentration levels. As it is a place that requires a pin-drop silence, a person can study or read in silence. It makes the students focus on students’ studies more efficiently. Libraries also broaden the students’ thinking and make them more open to modern thinking.

Most importantly, libraries are very economical. The students who cannot afford to buy new books can simply borrow books from a library. This helps such students in saving a lot of money and getting information without the need of spending much.

In fact, libraries are a great place to gain knowledge. They serve each person differently. They are a great source of learning and promoting the progress of knowledge. One can enjoy their free time in libraries by reading and researching. As the world has become digitized, it is now easier to browse through a library and get what you are looking for. Libraries also provide employment opportunities to people with fair pay and incredible working conditions.

But now libraries are slowly turning empty and are being closed at various places because of no readers at all. Due to the impact of remarkable technological advancement, the students find it easy to access the contents through their mobile, computers and tablets with the help of an internet connection. Such discoveries help to save time and energy as you can get to your content from home. People nowadays are busy with their life and business and do not have any time to visit libraries. Due to these conditions, libraries are dying out. In order to save the library, smart ideas should be followed to encourage the learners for visiting the library. And, most significantly, all the important books of the library should be preserved in an appropriate digital form. However, the most important thing is the students should be happily ready to read the. book, be it in paper form or in a digitized form Hence, a library is very useful for the students in order to broaden their horizons of knowledge.

b.Do you have any public library in your locality? If so, do the people in your community use it? Give a couple of examples. 

Ans.: Yes, we have a public library in my locality. The name of the library is the Vision Community Library (pseudonym). It is located in Devnagar (pseudonym). The library was established in 2071 BS with the efforts of local community people and the government school in the community. In the beginning, due to a lack of resources, the library only possessed school books. But later, it got some funds from the government and the library was expanded. At present, the library has almost all sorts and genres of books along with free computers and internet services. In a small village like ours, there is a very limited number of recreation facilities. So, people have developed our library as a recreation zone. Whenever they are bored and lonely, they go to the library and spend their time. People from my community gather in the library, read the newspapers available and discuss contemporary issues. Similarly, some children especially during their holidays come to the library in order to read the books of children’s poetry and short stories. Likewise, the old people of my community come there during the daytime and they read books. These old people too, chat with one another, usually about the things in the past and their wonder what would happen in the future. Some of the people also visit the library to communicate with their relatives who are working and staying abroad as the computers with the internet facilities have been installed in the libraries.