It’s National Library week.
I’m a library fan , but this past fortnight I realised that it’s way more than that.
I remember getting my first library card. My cousins took me to the library with them and there it was , my key to books. Loads of books . Any book I wanted I could pick up and take home for a while . I must have only been 3 or 4 but I remember getting that card , the stamp in the book.
As my sister and I got older family trips to the library were a Saturday morning staple. My parents ,my sister and I would head off to the library . We’d be in there ages. There was never any rush and pushing to pick quickly (like my kids have had from me plenty enough times) We’d all be in our separate sections of this quiet ,calm building filled with books. My dad looking for a clever spy novel , mum finding a gruesome horror , little sister finding something ghoulishly funny and me looking for the next author I could discover and binge ! Like a Netflix box set marathon , only with books !!
We’d go do a bit of family visiting then home and we’d all disperse and read . The concept seems quite funny to me now a household of 4 – no TV on , no games consoles just sat with our books and probably a cup of tea.
As years passed and that tradition of a Saturday of ours faded for one reason or another and I became a teenager the library was still a big part of my life (I wasn’t a cool teenager !!). My summer holidays were spent biking to library and back then just sitting on my bed and gorging on Paula Danziger and Judy Blume books . My mum would implore me to get outside for some ‘fresh air’ but I had all I needed. A pile of books ,my brain and my cosy bedroom.
When I had kids of my own the library becomes an exciting trip out – a free exciting trip out ! You can’t argue with that. Before small girl started school we used to go to the library so often we virtually had our own beanbag spot!!
So I’ve always loved the library ,it’s always been a staple in my life. I can almost document my life in books . I remember the books I would get out on a fortnightly basis because I loved them so much I had to read them over and over .
Then the recent dark days in my life happened . Not just a murky grey kind of time but as black as it can get. My mental health took such a crash for a couple of days I could barely speak , I couldn’t think straight certainly. I needed comfort but I didn’t want people. I definitely didn’t want people .
I walked to the library. I don’t really remember the walk for the swirling, crashing ,jumbling of thoughts going on in my head . I just felt drawn to it .
I walked in , collapsed at one of the desks and just felt calmer . I don’t know if it’s the still quiet of the library (I know you are allowed to talk now but people dont really) or if it was being surrounded by books the one thing I’ve been able to turn to given any mood . Something about sitting there though , in that building , with the smell of books and the quiet whirr of a computer printer and the chairs that have seen better days . Something grounded me a bit , calmed me a little . The whirling in my head slowed to a gentle cycle .
The library is my calm place. Any library , any building filled like that with books and people wanting to read them is good for my soul.
I’m aware that libraries are being shut , and downsized and having their opening hours cut and this angers me and upsets me but that’s a rant for another day.
I’ll just leave you with a quote I read on Twitter by the author Matt Haig
Libraries are and always have been magical to me. A gateway to creativity that doesn’t care how old you are , what race you are ,how rich you are .They just sit there full of all those glorious words , waiting for us to go and discover them.
As the young ‘uns may say . Cool af !!