Read It and Weep

I've never made much of it here before but for many years my day job ('What do you do in real life?' Matthew Engel asked me the other week) involved looking after archives. These days I spend more time encouraging others to value them, but I still pass most of my days surrounded by registers, by maps, by deeds, by wills, by letters. I like it, and I can get days off to watch cricket.

We value the things we look after and we try not to let them get eaten by insects. This, at the most basic level, is part of our ethos.

Because of this, and perhaps because I've been reading and thinking about Wisden and the game's rich written heritage more than usual recently, I was truly shocked by this, which Aakash Chopra, the former Indian Test batsman, was good enough to post on Twitter yesterday.

As my friend Chris Smith, of Declaration Game, has suggested, the sad state of the Kanga Memorial Library could be regarded as a metaphor for Indian cricket; that beneath the gleaming facade of the IPL, or in this case the redeveloped Wankhede Stadium, the infrastructure of the game, or the fabric of its history, has been left to wither.

It's hard to know what to do. This is a library I've never visited in a country I've never visited. But, at the moment, I feel as though I ought to do something.

I'm going to explore a few avenues and report back.

In the meantime, read it and weep.


Backwatersman said...

I wonder how many English county grounds still have libraries? Apart from the MCC library at Lord's, I've only seen the one at Trent Bridge. There must once have been one at Grace Road because they've sold most (all?) of it off in the Friends of Grace Road shop. Most of it's now on my bookshelves.

Brian Carpenter said...

I can only really speak about Lord's and Taunton. Obviously there's the MCC library at Lord's which won't be going anywhere, but at Taunton I think something quite similar to Grace Road has happened. There used to be a good library in the museum but the museum was refurbished before last season and I've got a feeling that the library has been mostly sold off (some of it to me). From memory (and the start of last season seems a long time ago now), the library didn't exist in its previous form last season.

Despite the fact that I've picked up a few books, it's great pity. It was agreat place to spend a few hours when it was raining.

Anonymous said...

The Kanga Library came to mind yesterday. I was visiting Chetham Library in Manchester, the country's oldest free library and beautifully curated in what appear to be, if not original, then very old, surrounds. Nobody in my group of social housing professionals came with any great interest in 18th Century literature or the writings of the formative Marxists. But all were captivated for the half-hour we visited the library. A cricket library in India ought to have the same impact, many millions of times over.

Brian Carpenter said...

Thanks, Chris.

I didn't know much about Chetham's but have just Googled it and it looks absolutely magnificent.

Anyone would be impressed.

Subscribe in a reader