Library Rules To Shelve

Andy Rooney: Abandon Tradition Of Silence

A weekly commentary by CBS News Correspondent Andy Rooney. It originally aired on May 12, 2002.
I use a computer, but 20 words on paper are worth a 1,000 on a computer, so I like books in libraries.

I have 10 observations to make about them.

  • The tradition of silence in a library ought to be abandoned. I've worked in newsrooms with people yelling all over the place and no one has any problem concentrating. Silence can be more intrusive than sound because you strain to hear the words of every whisper but you're oblivious to a yell or a shout.

  • Publishers should print books in just a few sizes - perhaps three.

  • There are too many blank pages at the beginning and end of most books, and authors should be discouraged from taking up a whole page to say something like, "To my wife Gretchen, without whose encouragement this book could not have been written."

    I mean, why should we waste our time while the author tries to get in good with his wife?
    If you took all the useless pages out of all the books in a library, they'd save miles of shelf space.

  • I have written 12 books now. This is the last one, "My War." Having people take one of my books out of a library does nothing for me.

  • Publishers should print the title of a book on the back parallel to the shelf, not perpendicular to it.

  • I would exclude books of fiction from a library. A library should be used for information, not entertainment. Go to the movies!

  • While I oppose capital punishment, anyone caught cutting a page out of a book in a library should be put to death.

  • I would do away with dust jackets. Dust jackets are a pain in the neck and do not prevent books from getting dusty.

  • Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "Every library should try to be complete on something, if it were only the history of pinheads."
    This is my little office library, with about 350 books. Forty seven of them are books on English grammar and usage. This is the head of my pin.

  • It is a sexist thought that I know that some of you will object to, but mechanics, prize fighters and garbagemen should be men. The best librarian I know is a man but I like mothers, nurses and librarians to be women.

    That's what I think about books and libraries.
    • David Kohn

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