Monday, October 25, 2010

The New Old Library

It seems that Penryn Library is about to fall victim to Cornwall Council's £110m cost-cutting initiative, details of which were made public today.

Reading between the lines it looks as though the library will either be closed or handed over to volunteers - if any suitable ones can be found.

Of course my immediate thought, apart from "bastards" and "where will the Blue Kitten get her Turn-the-Wheel with Spot books from now?" and "what kind of civilisation closes its libraries, for fuck's sake", and "there goes another community focal point" and "how can we expect standards of literacy to rise if this is the kind of thing we let happen?" was "well, this poses a problem for Penryn's microtoponymy and no mistake".

You see, just around the corner from the library is a very handsome bow-fronted building, whose name is The Old Library. Here it is, resplendent in today's autumn afternoon sunshine.

The Old Library was once the actual library, but it's someone's house now, a bit like The Old Fire Station*, at the other end of the street.

Which made me think: if the current library goes the way of the Old Library, will the owners of The Old Library have to rename their gaff The Old Old Library?

And as the economic downturn continues to bite into Penryn, where every other shop is now empty, will we soon see a raft of similar name plaques springing up as abandoned emporia are turned into private residences?

'The Old Pet Shop'

'The Old Off-Licence'

'The Old Sex Shop'

And so on, until the whole of Penryn is just a collection of houses whose names preserve a blueprint of how the town used to function.

Which is a neat post-modern concept, but a rubbish reality. I'd rather have the library than The Old Library, any day.

* Which, as James points out, looks like it's built from Lego. In fact this actual Lego fire station looks more like a real fire station and less like Lego than The Old Fire Station does.