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Index card 013 - Books about books
How to organize a library? by Roberto Calasso

Around fifty people are sitting on the stairs outside the public library. The sun is at its zenith, but everyone waits patiently. An old man appears from nowhere carrying a scroll. A couple of people close their eyes as he starts reading. Some years ago, it was forbidden to read library books, but here, in Alexandria, things are changing. Books are not only for the elites trained in the art of reading but also for the illiterate. Thanks to the library, the world’s deepest secrets are available to everyone for the first time in history.

Things have changed a lot in the last two thousand and something years, and still, it appears libraries are the last bastion of freedom, one of the only public spaces that escaped the capitalist logic and the severe restrictions of the state. Libraries keep alive the possibility of self-education and self-development outside the status quo. And if you are a reader, you probably have a personal library. And if you do, you have probably asked yourself, “how should I organize my books?”. This is more of a metaphysical question, and it has as many answers as books in your library.

Roberto Calasso explores this question in How to organize a library?. Over four brilliant short essays that touch on different layers of books. I especially enjoyed his opinions when talking about the bestseller market and the value of small independent bookstores run by actual readers, capable of suggesting the book you need rather than the one “everybody is talking about.”

How to organize a library? is a book for book lovers, bookkeepers, hardcore readers, and people in the book industry. But most important, it is a walk through unsuspected libraries and the complex relationship we have with our own books. A reminder of the beautiful and intricate universe of sharing knowledge. Unfortunately, this book hasn’t been translated into English (yet), but I share the Spanish version for our bilingual readers. Enjoy!

︎︎ Read How to organize a library?

A book can also exist as an autonomous and self-sufficient form, including perhaps a text that emphasizes that form, a text that is an organic part of that form: here begins the new art of making books. (Ulises Carrion)

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