What would I really like my librarian legacy to be? Well, pretty much this:
The antipodes of a Dryasdust, his human interest in books made him an ideal librarian, and his courtesy and helpfulness were outstanding features in a personality of singular charm. The whole bookish world looked on him as a friend.
This is from an article on Richard Garnett in the 11th ed Encyclopaedia Britannica (my current bed-time reading*). Garnett’s other achievements as a librarian at the British Museum are noted – reviving the publication of the catalogue and introducing the sliding press – but it’s his personality that shines though the article, and shows that good librarians have always been about more than books.
But as an interpreter, whether of biography or belles lettres, who brought an unusually wide range of book-learning, in its best sense, interestingly and comprehensibly before a large public, and at the same time acceptably to the canons of careful scholarship, Dr Garnett’s writing was always characterized by clearness, common sense and sympathetic appreciation.
A helpful, friendly scholar with a knack for making knowledge accessible? Sounds like my type of librarian.
*it’s actually jolly interesting!** Possibly made even more so by the slight sense of danger in reading a century-old work of reference. What can I trust? Does this reveal more about the society/culture than the subject? Are the Greek footnotes actually some sort of elaborate code?
I’ve been reading quite a few old referency-type books recently, and have a big pile of notes and highlights on my kindle for when I eventually get round to blogging about them properly.
**no, I didn’t start at A. Nor am I planning to slog my way through in order to ‘Zymotic Diseases’ (no zythum?). Where would be the fun in that?