In Liverpool: On National Libraries Day

On National Libraries Day25Well where else would I go on such a day?

I’ve spent the last couple of Saturdays working in my local library. I love to go there when I want to really concentrate on writing something. I love too the serendipity of finding what I didn’t even know I was looking for when accidentally sat next to an unfamiliar bit of library. These are sacred places.

But today I decided on a change. Decided I’d get the bus down to Liverpool Central Library. The new camera’s not been there yet so is naturally keen on a good look round.

Off the bus at Lewis's. Its endless renovation continues.

Off the bus at Lewis’s. Its endless renovation continues.

Lime Street looking particularly forlorn on a slate grey day.

Lime Street looking particularly forlorn on a slate grey day.

Don’t worry, we are walking towards the library. I’m ‘putting it in context!’

Past the old ABC Cinema.

Past the old ABC Cinema.

Towards St George's Hall.

Towards St George’s Hall.

Past St John's Market which appears to have qualified for 'Heritage' contractors.

Past St John’s Market which appears to have been invaded by aggressive plastic bags..

The blue beast broadcasting all day at the beauty of St George's.

Here the blue beast of Liverpool’s ugliest structure broadcasting all day at the beauty of St George.

Imperiously ignored by Albert.

Imperiously ignored by Albert.

And Victoria.

And Victoria. Can you really ride a horse like that without falling off?

While Jack Jones watches from a distance.

While Jack Jones watches the imperialists from a distance.

Walking down towards the Tunnel.

Walking down towards the Tunnel.

Here it is. Liverpool Central Library.

Here it is. Liverpool Central Library.

Said by some to be our third Cathedral.

In we go.

In we go.

Everyone passes here at the entrance to look up from their lives.

Everyone pauses here at the entrance to look up from their lives.

And of course many take that photograph.

Even now it's been reopened a couple of years I find it impossible not to gaze around me in wonder.

Even now it’s been reopened a couple of years I find it impossible not to gaze around me in wonder.

Heaven with books.

Heaven with books.

Floor upon floor of them.

Floor upon floor of them.

And see those people on the left?

And see those people on the left?

They’re librarians and you simply can’t run something like this without them. This is not the bookshelves at the back of an Oxfam. Cheerfully stocked by willing volunteers.

This is one of the greatest libraries on Earth.

This is one of the greatest libraries on Earth.

The place where we keep the stories.

The place where we keep the stories.

And store our dreams.

And store our dreams.

Where we make up our future.

Where we make up our futures.

From all that we've learned.

From all that we’ve learned.

A place where all of the books are precious.

A place where all of the books are precious.

A library.

A library.

A particularly magnificent one it must be said.

A particularly magnificent one it must be said.

But a library like any other library.

But a library like any other library.

On National Libraries Day32

Where one discovery will lead you to another.

 

Higher and higher...

Higher and higher…

And higher we go.

And higher we go.

Not quite at the top yet.

Not quite at the top yet.

We’ve reached Liverpool’s main Storehouse of our Memories.

The Liverpool Records Office.

The Liverpool Record Office.

Here are the records.

Here are the records.

Many stored in miniature.

Many stored in miniature.

And the maps of where we lived.

And the maps of where we lived.

Liverpool the last one, Runcorn this one. The Castle at Castlefields.

Liverpool the last one, Runcorn this one. The Castle at Castlefields.

Here are also the precious books of our place.

Well done 'Hidden Liverpool' - in a place of honour.

Well done ‘Hidden Liverpool’ – in a place of honour.

Mind you it's strange some of the buildings that have been honoured here.

Mind you it’s strange some of the buildings that have been honoured here.

The Royal Liverpool received its own architectural monograph?

The Royal Liverpool received its own architectural monograph?

One more floor to go.

One more floor to go.

I came up here last year to talk about the future of our libraries.

I came up here last year to talk about the future of our libraries.

We know know they’ll all be kept open somehow. But we still await details of how. And in some cases, who by. I’m watching carefully as we all are.

But now, out onto the roof.

But now, out onto the roof.

Where there is company.

Where there is company.

Looking down along Victoria Street.

Looking down along Victoria Street.

Towards the river.

Towards the river.

Across St John's Gardens.

Across St John’s Gardens.

And coming closer.

And coming closer.

Down at St George's Hall.

Down at St George’s Hall.

Where we are is a mixture of a new central building and restored and reopened older buildings.

Where we are is a mixture of a new central building and restored and reopened older buildings.

Time to go down now.

Time to go down now.

I was here.

I was here.

Wise words always relevant.

Wise words always relevant.

Beyond the books there are always more books.

Beyond the books there are always more books.

Sarah's book displayed next to Elton John's. She'll be delighted.

Sarah’s book displayed next to Elton John’s. She’ll be delighted.

On the way down.

On the way down.

People on computers and iPads all around me.

People on computers and iPads all around me.

Someone else comes in and takes the photograph we all take.

Someone else comes in and takes the photograph we all take.

In this magnificent place.

In this magnificent place.

This place of wonder.

This place of wonder.

Where our history is written on the wall.

Where our history is written on the wall.

Our future is just through there.

Our future is just through there.

And our present is the campaign of the week.

And our present is the campaign of the week.

I could stay here forever.

I could stay here forever.

And most night’s the library’s open late, unlike the local ones now we have the gift of austerity dumped on us. But on Saturday even here closes at five. So I walk through town to get the bus home.

Past the names of the 96.

Past the names of the 96.

Nearly always flowers here for one of them.

Nearly always flowers here for one of them.

Through the darkening streets.

Through the darkening streets.

Curlers in ready for Saturday night.

Curlers in ready for Saturday night.

The corporate lights beam down on the shoppers.

The corporate lights beam down on the shoppers.

I go into no shops myself. As ever, I don’t feel the need.

A gaming machine set up on the street. People in comfy chairs playing imaginary football.

A gaming machine set up on the street. People in comfy chairs playing imaginary football.

The strange half-world of Liverpool One.

The strange half-world of Liverpool One.

Out near the river.

Out near the river.

And there's my bus. Home to write this.

And there’s my bus. Home to write this.

On National Libraries Day, long may they thrive.

8 thoughts on “In Liverpool: On National Libraries Day

  1. radicalrambler

    I was there myself today. One of my favourite places to be. Before it was closed for the rebuild I would spend most of my Saturday afternoons there. I no longer feel the urge to linger long there now, and I rarely go into town – though forced to do so because of the truncated hours of my local library.
    My dad took us to the town library when we were kids every Saturday. I thought it a magical place then and still do.
    Thank you for a great tribute to a wonderful place.

    Reply
  2. robertday154

    You remind me of why I wanted to become a librarian – and did, only to have that quashed by harsh economic “realities” imposed by an earlier Austerity-minded Government. I think that there are some politicians who should be bought to public trial as Enemies of Civilization.

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      I know what you mean. In my own quiet moments of dreaming and caring I’m always a librarian and or a DJ. “Yes, I think what I’m going to prescribe is a week of Bleak House, a meander through social history and ‘New Books’ – plus the best of Howlin’ Wolf and a light infusion of Erik Satie. That should see you right.” If only.

      Reply
  3. lindsay53

    Wonderful post, Ronnie and great tribute to an inspiring and seems thoughtfully and well laid out building. Beautiful buildings like this will always lift the spirits on entering. Love the views from the rooftops. A new perspective. And I love the Saturday afternoon curlers….but not the ghastly pink tracky, I’m afraid! Good job we don’t all have the same taste!

    Reply
  4. jbaird

    What fantastic pictures! I miss my local library because I can’t drive due to a seizure. I get friends to drive me to doctor appointments and grocery stores, but feel I can’t ask them just to take me to the library. If I could walk there, I would. Just the smell of old and new books brings back my sense of wonder and adventure. x

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Dear Jan, I would drive you to the library if you were here and I think your friends would too if you asked them. Love is not finite and you are entitled to feel that sense of wonder and adventure again. x

      Reply

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