46 Great Opening Lines: 26

Alicia Martin, ‘Biografias’, installation in Cordoba, Spain, Photo courtesy of Toni Castillo Quero, Creative Commons


Over the past decade university ­libraries have been systematically removing books from their shelves.

Michael Wilding, ‘University Libraries should Preserve Printed Books’ in The Weekend Australian, 23rd August 2017

Last week’s opening line came from a short story by Michael Wilding. Now I’m drawing on him again, but today’s opening line is no fiction. It’s sadly the absolute truth about our libraries. He has written at least three pieces over the past seven years to alert the world to the emptying of its libraries.

Wilding is in some ways a man after my own heart. I’ve been told that my local university library will one day be purged of old French books (among other foreigners), so I’ve been borrowing what I can to prove they are wanted, to keep them out of the book cemetery.

In March 2014 Wilding wrote ‘Libraries Under Threat’ in Sydney Review of Books, and revealed what happened to some books from the University of Western Sydney:

… skip loads of books deemed duplicates, silver-fish infested and surplus to requirements were thrown out and used for landfill.

Hold onto that word ‘landfill’. I’ll be back.



Author: Trish

Literary translator, French to English. Family history amateur.

2 thoughts on “46 Great Opening Lines: 26”

  1. Whoa! ‘Biografias’ is one of those ‘artworks’ that keep one searching for how they did it. I’m thinking we should be grateful for The National Library, and their efforts to retain all our historically important books, newspapers and the like. Or are they purging also?

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