ABOARD THE QUEEN VICTORIA — One of the splendors of this
ship is the wood-paneled two-deck library, among the best at sea.
During a recent month-long renovation in which Cunard Line
made a number of changes to the ship, it could have taken the opportunity to
cut back the size of the library, add a bar or rebrand it as a learning center.
Cunard did none of those things, leaving intact the 7,000-volume
collection for guests to peruse.
There’s something extravagant about a two-story library on a
ship. The space is unified by a spiral staircase, complete with a standing
globe at the base. Upstairs is devoted to fiction, from Aaronson to Zander, while
the lower level is for nonfiction.
“Cunard has a proper library,” said Svetlana
Minic, one of two librarians who staff the book vault. The only library bigger
than the one on Queen Victoria is the one on the larger Queen Mary 2, which has
10,000 volumes, Minic said.
The marvel of such a library is that there’s something for
everybody. Not only does Queen Victoria have a fiction section, but it has a
separate case for short stories only. There’s a section for young adult fiction
as well as one for science fiction. The Everyman Library of classics spans
authors from Jane Austin to Virginia Woolf.
The nonfiction collection is even more impressive and
superbly organized. There are labeled shelves for everything from Animals,
Gardening, Fitness and Science to Arts & Crafts, Food and Drink, Sport,
Dance and Digital Photography.
Besides English, there are volumes in Italian, French,
German, Japanese and a small number in Chinese.
Reference books include a complete set of the Encyclopedia
Britannica. There are five floor-to-ceiling cases of travel books, and two of
books on marine themes such as Maritime History, Merchant Shipping, Warships,
Yachts and Passenger Shipping.
There are about a dozen books on Cunard Line or its
individual ships. Minic said there used to be more but guests have taken them
home as souvenirs, even though Queen Victoria has a bookshop stocked with new
commemorative Cunard books for sale.
For guests who want to take a book home, Minic operates a
paperback exchange. She said the library is very popular on world cruises. There’s
often not a seat to spare on either level.
Two or three times a year, the collection is freshened with
400 new books. The next change-out is set for the start of Queen Victoria’s
June 8 cruise from Southampton.
Minic said she then picks 400 older volumes to be donated at
one of the ship’s ports of call.
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