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The Public Library of New South Wales made me very happy today. Here is
a picture of part of the inside of it:

And this is a closer view of the book steps:

My fantasy library has those book ladders that slide around the edges of the room, but book steps are also quite wonderful. My fantasy library also organizes and dusts itself, which is one way you can tell it is a fantastic place.

Back in real life, at the NSW Public Library, T.R. and I wandered through an exhibit about mapping Antarctica. We saw the kind of old maps that have monsters in the corner and books of “travels” that include pictures of people with their faces on their chests and flamingo-like heads on long necks where one usually finds a normal head. Not that flamingo-heads aren’t normal, on flamingos. And not that the flamingo-head on the human was deformed. But you get the idea.

We exercised our brains by putting together a very hard puzzle-map of the world at the period when things were mostly figured out but often had different names. And then two library ladies came along and took it back apart. It is their job, but I was still sad.

There were lovely botanical drawings from some of the exploratory trips and photographs of strong, bearded men doing strong, bearded things. We saw the first book printed in Antarctica and an Australian sledging flag; clearly, one cannot sledge without a flag.

Both T. and I lost interest when we got to modern times. There were some lovely photographs and lots of accurate maps, but it is not The Same. The earlier maps were adventures, often death-defying and occasionally death-inducing. Now it is satellite photos and such, which, while fascinating, emphasize that there is no more Terra Incognita.

Of course we went to the café and the shop because that is How Things Are Done. On our way back along the outside of the building, I had to stop and take this picture:

That is Matthew Flinders’s cat Trim, the first cat to circumnavigate Australia.



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June 2012
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