Category Archives: Literary Speaking

“Your library is your portrait.” – Holbrook Jackson

Apart from a cinema, a library is my one pre-requisite for that house I’ve had an architect in the back of my mind designing for at least the last 20yrs. Floor to ceiling shelves across every wall, and a spiral staircases leading to the upper level. That, or one of those ladders on wheels that you can pull along the shelves. There’ll be a desk where words are written with actual pen and paper, and I’ll also do my colouring here. I think perhaps mahogany, deep rich wood. It’s going to be oustanding.

For someone who has a reading pattern that waxes as much as it wanes I do think a library is the most important building in a community. I think to put that much knowledge under one roof and give people access to it for free is the greatest idea humankind has ever had. Imagine. You want to know something, so you go to a library, look it up, find the book, you get to take it home, and you learn. It costs you nothing and all you need to access it is the desire to know more than you already do. Brilliant. This kind of innovative thinking is what will save humanity.

The architecture alone in some libraries around the world is amazing. I love the British Library, and the reading room at the British Museum…you just feel like you’re absorbing knowledge just standing there. The first time I was in New York and I’d managed to escape yet another shopping expedition I went straight to the NY Public Library and fell in love. Every time since I make sure I steal at the very least an hour to myself to sit on those steps between Patience and Fortitude and just watch the world. On my next visit I will have to visit the Brooklyn Public Library, which I’m told – albeit by a Brooklynite, is even better.

I re-joined my local library last year after a very long absence. There was some trepidation over a book I’d borrowed when I was a kid and lent to someone else who failed to return it. I was scared that after all this time my fine would be bigger than a mortgage. However, turns out they didn’t do a background check and they just let me join after producing my licence and I’ve been happily borrowing ever since. Woo hoo!

Now my library doesn’t have the greatest stock in books, particularly the kind of books I read; but then I’m a selective reader so most of the books I do read are ones I know I’ll fall in love with so owning them becomes necessary. I’ve been internet savvy for a long time and Google is my best friend so I know how to find things online with ease. However, there will always be a part of me that believes sitting at a desk with a pile of books in front of you as you take notes is the only real way to do research. I believe those late night sessions in the library as you try to finish your homework is a rite of passage that everyone should have. The resources may not be great but my library allows me to remember a time when people learnt things from books. Today I had cause to learn.

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