The other week I went to the local branch of Australia’s largest cinema chain (I was seeing Brick – definitely recommend it) and, during the usual 10 minutes of advertising, I was startled out of my pre-film stupor by the appearance of a rather stylish book related advertisement. For an exhibition at the NSW State Library no less. I can’t imagine what the ad would have cost but it was a welcome change from the car ads and it made me feel pathetically warm and fuzzy.
The exhibition is called “National Treasures from Australia’s Great Libraries”, a travelling exhibition which has recently arrived in Sydney. Although I can’t say so definitively, given the time it seems to take to plan exhibitions and the like, I like to think that this exhibition has its genesis in a bookish phenomenon that happened in 2002, when the National Library of Australia, as its centrepiece for its centenary celebrations, had an anniversary exhibition entitled “Treasures From The World’s Great Libraries”.
No-one is quite sure how it happened, but somehow, its popularity absolutely exploded. Queues began at 5am, within two hours they would circle around the building. It got to the point where the exhibition was open 24hrs/ day to cope with demand.
It was utterly fabulous. I can’t tell you what fun it was to queue, at dawn (and let me tell you, it can be subzero in Canberra during Winter dawns), with thousands of other people who were waiting to enter a library. For a shining moment, I thought that it would transform the country into a bibliophile’s paradise.
Needless to say, I was wrong. 8(