I’ve been to the library, that’s my big news for today and it’s more than enough to be getting on with. I’ve been to the library.
Not to the big central one in town. That’s been back open for a while now but I’m still not going to town. No, this was to one of our two local libraries. The one that’s been closed since the first lockdown in March last year and I’d worried might not be opening again. But actually Allerton Road library has been having a lot of work done, particularly ventilation and air extraction works by the looks of it as I looked around.
Though first of all, of course, I looked around at the books. For the pleasure of being in there and back in their company.
A few years ago I was on a City Council committee which worked on keeping our public libraries open, during the earlier days of imposed government austerity. So I know from then that this is the second most often visited library in the city. Not today though as, I’m guessing, most people don’t know it’s open again yet. But it is. Limited hours, but it’s open.
And it’s all as safe as a public building can be. As well as the new air circulation equipment there are open doors and windows, hand sanitiser, test and trace forms, staff welcoming and guiding everyone, tables removed for now for extra space, and half the computers out of use for careful distancing. But it’s open.
Then there are the books.
I haven’t had a very bookish time lately. What with the libraries shut and the charity shops too I’ve finally had to take to reading on an iPad. Which has been much better than nothing and I’m sure I’ll carry on with digital reading now I’ve got used to it. But it’s not the same as the lifelong holding of books in my hands I’ve so missed. Never mind the walking into such a treasure house as this. Where you never know what you’ll discover, in the serendipity of a public library that no amount of algorithms and their ‘if you liked that’ suggestions can replace.
So here’s today’s haul. A mix of serendipity, algorithms and the suggestion of a friend. Plus another one about rock pools not pictured here because Sarah’s already busy reading it.
Today I’ve been to the library and it felt like going home. Home to the world I grew up in. Of public libraries, council houses, a fully functioning welfare state and health service, cradle to grave free education, all as of right. And all written about by Stuart Maconie in the iPad book I’ll be finishing before I get started on any of the new ones I got from the library today.
Aren’t public libraries wonderful?
Much more about public libraries and reading generally here at “A book in your bag”