The flyers above are an obtuse nod to Schipol Airport, which has recently installed a public library for travellers in the terminal, positioned between the security check-in and the gate. This library is very popular with travellers, and the simple security measures (a bright sticker on each book cover) seem to be doing the trick, although many items go on journeys with travellers, only to be returned on the homeward leg. This is just one of the more interesting library phenomena I have learnt of in recent times, directly as a result of experimenting with Google alerts, a service that emails you search results daily (or at the interval you nominate) on the basis of key words you select. For purely professional reasons, one of the key words for which I am currently receiving alerts is 'library'. I was looking at today's email, and it occurred to me that the word library forms a link between so many different aspects of life that it is almost universal in its ability to evoke the human condition. Life, death, flying, politics, crime, money - the humble word 'library' throws it all up. In my skim of the day's library-related news items, there was a mysterious death of a student in the carrels (still unexplained despite an autopsy); a bitter struggle over the autonomy of a steering committee trying to decide the future of a small community's libraries; skirmishes over budgets and resources; programmes for babies, the young, the middle-aged and the elderly; the re-banning of a homeless man who entered a library two days before his first annual ban expired; an article about a library check-out desk made entirely of books; and many others.
The blog alert for 'library' threw up even more byzantine political struggles, mildly entertaining events programmes and celebrations of all things reading-related. This has got me thinking: what else could I get my little Google alerts to do? I think it is time to start searching for phrases. You never know what might come up.