Summary of The Essay
The essay 'On Libraries' is written by Oliver Sacks. In this essay, the essayist remembers his childhood. He grew up in an oak-panelled library inherited from his father where so many books were stacked. Oliver is happy in this essay because it is his autobiographical writing. He is so delightful. It is written in praise of intellectual freedom, community work, a high state of unexpected discovery and so on.
The essayist has a good habit of reading books in libraries. He has found his natural curiosity unstimulated by the industrial model of education into which he was pushed. At the library, he was the master of his own time and mind. He got so many ideas from books. He discovered the living substance of learning without the ill-fitting structure of schooling. He apprehended liberation through self-directed learning. He also found a surprising sense of community, which became a wonderful complement to his newfound intellectual autonomy. Autonomous learning is very important and good to achieve success.
The essayist moved to New York City in 1965. He started to live in a small apartment. It was difficult for him to read and write but he began to write. He wrote books on the mind. Then, he was accepted into the Albert Einstein College of Medicine where he felt comfortable reading and writing. He met another friend there who was also searching for the books of the brain. They had a close connection because they shared their knowledge with each other. He continued reading books in the library. At that time students ignored bookshelves because of their access to the materials on the computers. Some libraries started to discard old books. He didn’t like that. For him, it was a very bad thing that he took as murder or crime. The library became his escape from the oppressions and adversity of a young person.
Who is the writer of the essay On Libraries?
Oliver Sacks was born in 1933 in London and was educated at the Queen’s College, Oxford. He completed his medical training at San Francisco’s Mount Zion Hospital and at UCLA before moving to New York, where he soon encountered the patients whom he would write about in his book Awakenings.
The sack was a neurologist and an author whose case studies of patients with unusual disorders became best-sellers. His focus on patients with particularly rare or dramatic problems made his work popular with writers in other forms, and his case studies were adapted into several different movies and operas. Dr. Sacks spent almost fifty years working as a neurologist and wrote a number of books--including The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Musicophilia, and Hallucinations--about the strange neurological predicaments and conditions of his patients.
The New York Times referred to him as "the poet laureate of medicine," and he received many awards, including honours from ‘The Guggenheim Foundation,’ The National Science Foundation, The American Academy of Arts and Letters, and The Royal College of Physicians. His memoir, On the Move, was published shortly before his death in August 2015. “On Libraries” is written in praise of intellectual freedom, community work, and the ecstasy of serendipitous discovery. Among the titans of mind and spirit shaped and saved by libraries was the great neurologist, author, and voracious reader.
Exercise of The Essay On Libraries
Understanding The Text
a. Where could the author be found when he was late for lunch or dinner?
➥ The author could be found in a little lab along with the oak-panelled library that belonged to his father when he was late for lunch or dinner.
b. What are his first memories?
➥ The beautiful oak panel library and books were the first memory of the writer.
c. Why did he dislike school?
➥ The author didn't like school because he had to listen to the teachers passively obey their instructions. The author liked to learn himself in libraries being free to choose books of his own choice.
d. What did he feel about at the library?
➥ At the library, he felt free to look out thousands of books, to roam around and to enjoy the special atmosphere and the quiet companionship of other readers all like him in the same quest.
e. Why was he so biased about sciences especially astronomy and chemistry?
➥ He was so biased about science especially astronomy and chemistry because science was his study of interest. Any library could provide books on various subjects and faculties, and to read all of them is not possible. We must focus our study on a specific subject to get a wide range of knowledge on that subject so the writer, to get specific knowledge, focused himself in astronomy and chemistry.
f. Why did he become so fascinated by Hook?
➥ The writer became so fascinated by Theodore Hook because he was greatly admired in the 19th century for his wit and his genius for theatrical and musical improvisation. He was said to have composed more than 500 operas on the spot.
g. Describe the library at Queen’s College.
➥ The Queen's College is a constituent college of the University of Oxford, England. It has a magnificent library building which was designed by Christopher Wren, one of the most highly acclaimed English architects in history. Beneath the library building, there is the vast subterranean holding of the library.
h. Why did the students ignore the bookshelves in the 1990s?
➥ The students ignored the bookshelves in the 1990s because they have access to computerized books.
i. Why was he horrified when he visited the library a couple of months ago?
➥ He was horrified when he visited the library a couple of months ago because most of the shelves were sparsely occupied. Most of the books had been thrown out or digitalized.
Reference to the Context
a. The author says, “I was not a good pupil, but I was a good listener.” Justify it with the textual pieces of evidence.
➥ In the essay, Oliver Sacks says, “I was not a good pupil, but I was a good listener.” To be a good pupil, one has to be a good relation to Ads by Sending feedback Why this ad? teachers in a school. S/he has to attend classes regularly under the instructions provided by the teachers. S/he has to complete all the assignments given by the teacher after the lectures. But Oliver Sacks was not like that kind of pupil. He didn’t like to learn passively. Instead, he likes to learn actively in libraries selecting books of his choice. He loves reading varieties of books in the library being free.
b. A proverb says, "Nothing is pleasanter than exploring a library." Does this proverb apply in the essay? Explain.
➥ The beautiful quotation, “Nothing is pleasanter than exploring a library.” Walter Savage Landor talks about the happiness, any studious person gets in a library. Any library provides enormous sources of information on a variety of topics. Nothing gives much satisfaction as reading books gives to a bookish fellow. Oliveri Sacks is a bookworm who spends much of his time in different libraries in different places.
His book reading started from his own library at home. All of his family members loved reading books and he was grown up in that environment. The oak-panelled library at his own home was his favourite room. Instead of attending formal schools, he preferred to read freely in libraries. Especially he enjoyed the library environment and the quiet companionship of other readers. He would love to sit at a table in libraries, with a mountain of books in Infront of him.
c. Are there any other services that you would like to see added to the library?
➥ When we hear the term “Library”, an image that comes to our mind is a room filled with several stocks of bookshelves and book lovers reading there. In the past, the shelves were full of paper-based books. I would like to see libraries offering an abundance of additional services which we can enjoy. I like to have access to audiobooks, Ebooks, large print and braille materials, CDs, DVDs, Internet access, community clubs, manuscripts and so on. They could provide access to reading to different readers. Even blind people can read books in a library if they provide braille materials. Internet users can read EBooks there.
Reference Beyond the Text
a. Write an essay on Libraries and their uses for students.
➥ A library is a place where books and sources of information are stored. They make it easier for people to get access to them for various purposes. Libraries are very helpful and economical too. They include books, magazines, newspapers, DVDs, manuscripts and more. In other words, they are an all-encompassing source of information.
A public library is open to everyone to fulfilling the need for information. They are run by the government, schools, colleges, and universities. The members of the society or community can visit these libraries to enhance their knowledge and complete their research. Libraries play a vital role in providing people with reliable content. They encourage and promote the process of learning and grasping knowledge. The bookworms can get loads of books to read and enhance their knowledge. Moreover, the variety is so wide-ranging that one mostly gets what they are looking for.
Furthermore, they help people to get their hands on great educational material which they might not find otherwise in the market. When we read more, our social skills and academic performance improves. Most importantly, libraries are a great platform for making progress. When we get homework in class, the libraries help us with the reference material. This, in turn, progresses our learning capabilities and knowledge. It is also helpful in our overall development.