You hold my earliest memories. White rooms with grand high ceilings and so many tall windows, the sunlight so clear that it was obviously meant for reading. And the hush, overseen by librarians who all looked like my great-aunt, a hush so carefully policed because the books needed to be heard. The children’s books were upstairs, up an outside staircase in the days when there were such things. A grand white building in a wide park of grass and Moreton Bay figs. I still go past you now and then, but you are a Library no more.
And you were in another building too; a stern, concrete monolith to which we took our high school homework … and our smokes (they, not I!). Smoking in a library, it’s inconceivable, it’s barbaric! … but there were ashtrays.
And you were on campus, an architectural wonder amidst New England stone. Your tomes were mostly beyond me, and I was mostly terrified.
And you saw my children come and go, half a dozen. You nurtured them and showed them a world beyond my reach. What a treat it always was, to take them through your door.
And now my grandchildren visit you too, and their world is bigger yet. Their parents take great joy in you, dear friend. They know you are a sacred space where a certain hush still rests on people, even busy ones. A place where truth and wonder hold their own in a world we grownups know to be less pure.
And I love you too, with older eyes but no less awe. And it brings me great delight to add my own small part to all you do.
I submitted this to “Love Letter to your Library” on Saint Valentines Day, 14 February 2018, which was celebrated locally as “Love Your Library Day”.
A highlight of every week is the time I spend as a volunteer in our Library, my task being to prepare new acquisitions for cataloguing. It’s an interesting little job; and I do love being a small part of a talented team working in a very busy public space. There is a ‘bitter pill’ though: somewhat ironically the books themselves are beyond my reach, I can’t read them any more. It’s so tempting to dip into the books on display, and the books that come across “my” desk, but I can’t read much more than a paragraph before poor vision insists I close the cover. Now and then I find one available as a audio-book, but most remain locked away. The books I do enjoy when they come to be processed are toddler’s Board Books: the very best writers and illustrators manage to capture amazing worlds of thought in so few words.
To contribute, even modestly, is such fulfilling delight. The Librarians always thank me for coming in to help; but I wish they knew that it’s really the other way round.
Do throw me a line or two……