How to speak up for a space where speaking up is not exactly encouraged? Just one challenge facing the nationwide campaign against local library closures this year. "Please keep the noise down" isn't an ideal protest chant. Then again, perhaps libraries aren't quite as quiet as we all thought.
I'm sitting in beautiful Bishopsgate Library in the heart of the City, immersed in The Quiet Volume, a magical audio experience that draws attention to the surprisingly noisy nature of silent reading. Ant Hampton and Tim Etchell's self-generated performance is part of the 2011 London Word Festival, back for another month of literary hook-ups and love-ins, this time with libraries as its broad theme.
Later in the month, focus will switch to the future of book-borrowing in No Furniture So Charming (21 April), an open debate at Bethnal Green Library featuring interested parties from across the literary spectrum, including Nora Daly of the British Library and Chris Meade of Brooklyn blog and think-tank, if:book.
And finally, a lament for libraries past, as singer Emmy the Great and poet Jack Underwood present The Goodbye Library (27 April), a shelf-by-shelf tribute at Islington's The Nave to the Dewey Decimal System. Guests including Submarine writer Joe Dunthorne will eulogise sections ranging from Mind, Body and Soul to Teenage Fiction.
The 2011 London Word Festival runs until 5 May (londonwordfestival.com)