Book lovers, unite!

Trinity College library
Lightning storm

 I have always imagined that Paradise
will be a kind of library.
(Jorge Luis Borges)

If this yesterday’s long list of Firefox bookmarks was anything to go by, you’d have taken me for a very active library assistant waiting impatiently to sort non-fiction books according to the Dewey Classification again. It left me mesmerising out loud that you can take the girl out of the library, but you can’t take the library out of the girl. After all, I was destined for librarianship in some shape or form from early in life. I always felt that a child with a book can achieve more than an adult with a gun.

And that’s what I ended up doing: studying library sciences. Via word of mouth I then moved to different libraries to update and integrate their manual indexes, lists and catalogues with electronic ones. Often Herculean at best, since each library had thousands of books, CDs, videos, newspapers and other items waiting to be added.

Other tasks included laminating and shelving books, but even a fall down the library staircase in high heels while carrying a box of heavy books could not keep me away. The result was ruptured tendons and blue/purple/yellow Picasso-like artwork on my ankle which ended up in a cast twice in the space of six months. Yes, you know my Nana’s saying by now, “Girl if you want to get somewhere in life, do it well, or don’t start at all.”

Typical Nana-wisdom. After all, born in the middle of the First World War, and lived through the Second one eating potato peels in order to survive. Sadly she only lived until age 70, for she had wisdom worthy of being published in Encyclopædia Britannica.

This was passed to my mam, who should have been a lawyer because of her loquaciousness in different languages, who passed it onto me. Sadly I lost a lot of my native dialect over time, but I definitely inherited her love for words and books in my library quest for more paper, more literacy and more knowledge.

I love words, funky ones, cranky ones, utterly ridiculous ones. Justified paragraphs make me giggle, intense fonts a  playful thing and long sentences that shout for shortened versions make me sigh.

Long sentences? I’ve been living in Ireland for 12+ years now, and honey, we simply don’t do short sentences in Ireland. Ask Joyce, who once wrote something so flabbergastingly fantastic that he forgot to add punctuation, a sentence of 4,391 words, no less. Molly Bloom must’ve gasped for air once she finished dreaming or thinking it. I am still gasping for air after tackling Ulysses. Talk about kick-ass literature.

In fact, were James Joyce still alive today, I’d ask him to write my biography. No better man than Joyce to write about life in Ireland.

Language corrosion in this day and age, however, has become easy because new forms of communication allow people to be as impartial or free about their spelling as they can be. For me, despite not liking the English Crown, the Queen’s English is the only English I can or am willing to write in text messages, emails, long-form or grocery lists. As I said, I’m a sucker for great words and correct spelling, and when I find mistakes in newspaper articles, for example, I often feel I want to use hard-line ninja tactics on misspelt or under-spelled words.

In other words, I am what some call the ‘Nazi-police’ where grammar is concerned. My idea is that those who invented the term ‘Nazi-police’ have no idea what life under Hitler was truly like. I would happily refer them to my Nana but were it not for the German dictator, she might have lived a longer life. I rather refer to using ninja tactics so, here one minute, corrected the next.

Shortcut rambling used on Twitter was something I needed to keep reminding myself of when I started writing four years ago. I now adore my followers and have learned a lot from them. Before, I was blissfully unaware of this form of shortcut rambling.

 An original idea. That can’t be too hard.
The library must be full of them. (Stephen Fry)

You see, my health reminds me all too often about its crooked hinges and hardened brain matter, I don’t feel like turning into an addicted social-media-on-my-smartphone user. As you can tell, I am not overly in sync with certain aspects of social media and technological tricks to help you live life that much easier. I use two apps to remind me of my medicine schedule, and a few to keep my brain health in great shape, but that’s as far as I go.

I miss the time when you had to drag an encyclopaedia from a library shelf to your table and turn page after page, looking for answers for your homework. Now Wikipedia and other encyclopaedias are an online two-second-click on my menu bar, something I use every single day for the silliest of reasons, but the hunger remains. This is, of course, at the cost of public libraries and those trying to pen word after word when writing big, heavy, wonderful encyclopaedias.

However, just like Mr Google and Mrs Bing are the worst doctors on the internet, Wikipedia is not always correct either, so check your resources wisely. Trying to get this into the mind of young people who forgot to finish their homework on time, is a lost cause.

In a digital, information age as today, seeing libraries shut down, books thrown out and people becoming lazy as tons of new info is dropped online each day, the scent of a new book can still throw me back to when it was just about pen and paper, me against hundreds of books waiting to be shelved again on Monday morning.

My hunger for tangible books and libraries still makes me wonder about the vast amount of knowledge that was lost when the library of Alexandria burned down in 48 BC, and during its following three known times of destruction. It almost pains me not knowing. Similarly, ISIS recent burning of books and rare manuscripts from Mosul’s libraries not only angers me, but makes me wonder who the real infidels are, us who try to protect world history, or those aiming to destroy it.

In the end, I would not have been who I am today was it not for the endless hours I spent in a library while growing up. I would not have lived in Ireland or have learned that besides languages, books are all you need in life.


A library is the delivery room for the birth of ideas, a place where history comes to life. (Norman Cousins)

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. (Marcus Tullius Cicero)

The library is the temple of learning, and learning has liberated more people than all the wars in history. (Carl T. Rowan)

Your library is your paradise. (Desiderius Erasmus)

The library, with its Daedalian labyrinth, mysterious hush, and faintly ominous aroma of knowledge, has been replaced by the computer’s cheap glow, pesky chirp, and data spillage. (P. J. O’Rourke)

I discovered me in the library. I went to find me in the library. (Ray Bradbury)

My parents and librarians along the way taught me about the space between words; about the margins, where so many juicy moments of life and spirit and friendship could be found. In a library, you could find miracles and truth and you might find something that would make you laugh so hard that you get shushed, in the friendliest way. (Anne Lamott)

An original idea. That can’t be too hard. The library must be full of them. (Stephen Fry)

Half of my library are old books because I like seeing how people thought about their world at their time. So that I don’t get bigheaded about something we just discovered and I can be humble about where we might go next. Because you can see who got stuff right and most of the people who got stuff wrong. (Neil deGrasse Tyson)

I read all the time. I love it. My fantasy would be to be locked into a library. I’d be very, very happy.

Related articles where James Joyce is mentioned:

If you’re interested in doing Library Studies in Ireland, you can find more information here:

UCD School of Information & Library Studies

The Library Association of Ireland

Further career information for Ireland

For studies in the UK, more info can be found here and here

For distance learning library sciences in the US, you can find more info here

©Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me, 2011-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Writer of | Everyday Health Top 10 MS Blog of 2018 | Feedspot Top 50 MS Blog 2017, 2018 | Ireland Blog Award Finalist 2014, 2015, 2017 | Contributor to MS Ireland community blog | Contributor to Living Like You, a Novartis sponsored MS blog |

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