In The Library

Do any of you visit the library anymore? I confess I don’t go often. Why not? The accessibility of online book ordering, plus the fortunate circumstance of disposable income. I have, for a while now, been able to afford to buy books – digital or ‘real’. Plus, I’ve lived in a village without a library for the last ten years, which means I have to drive there.

How different from my childhood. Our local library was a five minute walk away. I was there ALL THE TIME. My mum was (is) an avid reader and visited at least weekly, and I went with her, as far back as I can remember. While she chose her adult books, I browsed the children’s section. My library introduced me to many of my favourite books: The Moomins, The Famous Five, The Hobbit…and eventually, to The Dark Is Rising and what would become my favourite type of book, to this day. Legends, witches, magic – everything I read and write about now. 😉

I know fellow writers who use the library to work in, as it gets them away from the disturbances of everyday life. I’m fortunate in that, if I can make the cats go away, I have peace and quiet in my little office/reading room/den. (I currently do have a cat here, but he’s asleep. I can blank out the snores). With the advent of the internet, I don’t need to go to the library to do research – I have everything I need at my Googling fingertips.

This isn’t a comment piece on the decline of libraries, but just looking over what I’ve written, I can see why it’s happening. It does make me sad. Maybe that’s just nostalgia? Anyway, a few weeks ago I resolved to visit my library. I had a long gap between giving driving lessons, but decided not to go home and veg on the couch. Instead, I went to the library, and did some people watching, and writing. It was useful, and fun! I made some notes on what I observed. They turned into a little poem, which I have included below.

My library didn't look like this. This is a posh Edinburgh one. ;-) Pic courtesy of

My library didn’t look like this. This is a posh Edinburgh one. 😉
Pic courtesy of

In the library

The urge to tell people to stop talking…
Especially all those old people pretending to use the computers
But just really having a blether out of the rain.
A young man on his phone. Naughty!
Drip, drip, drip of rain from the leaky roof.
The lady muttering at the computer screen.
The wean crying in the kiddie section.
The window cleaner’s squeegee knocking on the glass.
Beeps and squeals from the computer system.
The librarian filing books back onto the shelves. Yes, real books!
Me wondering if I should learn to type properly.
Voices in the background discussing books.
People glimpsed through shelves – what are they choosing?
Lots to inspire me.
It’s a good place to write.
But now I’m getting hungry.
Time to go home and get some lunch.
No eating in the library, remember!

wean: a child or baby
blether: idle or foolish and irrelevant talk


11 thoughts on “In The Library

  1. Intriguing piece! Once upon a time, I used to live in the library. Like you, I was very fortunate to have a library right around the corner. It wasn’t open very often, but when I was, I was there, and I must have read every single children’s book in there. The librarian used to tear at her hair when I turned up in search of more reading material!

    When my Dad passed away and I had to get rid of an awful lot of stuff that I still had stored at my parent’s flat, I donated to the library a complete set of Enid Blyton books. You should have seen the look on the ladies’ face. It was an awesome moment. This, alas, was in Germany.

    As for here… well. As a student, the library was my best friend, but I never liked working in there. Too stuffy, and too uncomfy. I need distraction, tea, coffee, chocolate, you name it. Now my local library is run by volunteers and the opening hours are much reduced, although I’m grateful it’s still open. The kids and I all have borrower’s passes and we’ve started exploring the treasures on the shelves to satisfy the boys’ increasing appetite for more, more, more stories.

    What will happen to the library of the future? I don’t know. I really don’t know. As you say, with online ordering and ebooks, the reading world has changed so much. But I do think there is, and should be, a place for free-books-for-all now and in the future. We’ve just got to figure out what that’ll look like. *end of rant*

    Great thought-provoking piece, with apologies for the rambling reply! X

  2. I loved the trips to the library. There was always the anticipation of what would be on the shelves, the smell of the books, the hush of people reading and thinking. Thanks for this Karen!

  3. Sad to say I don’t go to the library much any more. As a kid, I couldn’t wait to get my ‘adult card’ to be able to read something besides the kid’s books. I have a collection of all my old library cards from wherever we lived. Great post, Karen, as it brings back good memories of the libraries!

  4. I still use the library as a way of getting out of the house, changing my working environment to freshen up my brain. I think it is also partly nostalgia as well – though I can get all the information I need from the internet, getting some of it off those dusty shelves just feels right.

    • Thanks for reading, Andrew. I agree, I think it’s a good way of freshening up the work environment. Well, I got a poem out of my last visit! I shall visit again and see what happens… 🙂

  5. I agree with you that it’s a shame libraries are declining. I guess it’s a bit inevitable really, what with the rise of ebooks and the internet. I’m like you – I do my research on the internet. It’s so convenient and there’s a wealth of information. Again like you, growing up I went to the library all the time to choose books. I loved it – I especially loved the mobile library which would come round to our neighbourhood once a week.

    Anyway, it would seem that libraries are a bit of a dying breed but I hope they don’t vanish altogether. They do provide a vital service to many people who don’t have access to the internet or ebooks.

    Thank you for a great post. 🙂

    • Thanks for reading. I agree, I hope libraries can continue – certainly when I was in mine it was well used, maybe not for the reasons they used to be, but busy just the same! 🙂

      • I know what you mean. Funnily enough Bristol central library is rubbish for its lending library but does have a good reference library upstairs as well as internet access and a small cafe downstairs lol!! And it’s always busy.

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