Libraries got me thinking

Remember going to the library as a kid? My mother used to take us to the local library every couple of weeks and we’d borrow a pile of books, excited to rush home and read them all. My local library wasn’t a big building and didn’t sport the internet hub, book recommendations and helpful culture of today’s wonderful establishments. Think stern librarians, a giant key to the the one toilet, old-fashioned shelving and the kids section in a small room.

Still, it felt like a magical place to me. Not least because it was there I discovered the worlds of Susan Cooper, Ursula Le Guin and indulged my addiction to Narnia and other fantastical quests and characters.

Recently I’ve had the opportunity to visit a variety of libraries and it got me thinking about the difference between the establishments of old compared to new, private collections versus public and just how much libraries impacted my love of reading and influenced me to write.

Private library at a chateau/hotel in the Leognan region of France

More questions …

As I lean towards reading on an eReader, how does that impact my love of books? To be honest, I believe I love the stories just as much but what about that tactile feel of perusing, choosing and holding a real book in your hand? What about the social aspect of visiting the library and being offered so much choice, virtually for free? When I took my kids to the library as youngsters we’d leave that place with 40 books and wouldn’t blink an eye. Maybe I just have some kind of mad addiction?

“[D]on’t ever apologise to an author for buying something in paperback, or taking it out from a library (that’s what they’re there for. Use your library). Don’t apologise to this author for buying books second hand, or getting them from bookcrossing or borrowing a friend’s copy. What’s important to me is that people read the books and enjoy them, and that, at some point in there, the book was bought by someone. And that people who like things, tell other people. The most important thing is that people read…”

― Neil Gaiman

Thank you to Goodreads for their fabulous collection of quotes

Take a gander at the grandeur of this Rijksmuseum-based library in Amsterdam. Would books be housed in anything so grand today? What does a building like this say about people’s attitude to books back in the day? Treasure or simply an elite status symbol. Both?

Doctor Who: You want weapons? We’re in a library. Books are the best weapon in the world. This room’s the greatest arsenal we could have. Arm yourself!

(from Tooth and Claw in Season 2)”
― Russell T. Davies

A private library housed in a University of Melbourne college for student’s use

“A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library.”

― Shelby Foote

So what do libraries mean to you? What are you memories of libraries in your past and how do you use them now?

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