Why I Love Libraries

This is Library Week 2022, which gives me a great excuse to witter on about libraries and why I love libraries.

My favourite library

The Sandeman Library, Perth

Here is a picture of the library that I remember best growing up.

It’s the Sandeman Library in Perth, Scotland and it was conveniently located right by where my bus would stop if I was going into town from home. It’s an old library, built in 1898 from Red Sandstone. Quite an imposing building, on a corner and with a clock tower.  Inside it had polished parquet flooring and huge dark wood shelves. And I can still remember the smell, a mixture of polish and old books and dust.  It was here, as a young child,  that I discovered books about the Titanic, and about The Oregon Trail that filled my head with adventure.  Later I read a lot of pony books by Christine Pullein-Thompson and Ruby Ferguson and others. I got through a lot of library books. 

When I was 16 we moved out of Perth to a town 10 miles away in Fife, but because I was in the middle of exams I stayed at the same school and traveled by bus every day. Conveniently I had to change buses right by the library so I got to spend a little bit of time in my library almost every day, and by this time I was deeply into 19th Century literature. I loved Jane Austen and all the Bronte sisters, Mrs Gaskell and Harriet Martineau. I read a lot of Dickens but I never really got to grips with him.  I discovered Thomas Hardy and Walter Scott and Tolkien there.  It was a fantastic library.  It introduced me to worlds beyond that small Scottish town, and taught me to think, and to be open to new ideas. I travelled through time and space, and across the globe in the books I borrowed.  That library made me the book lover I am today.

Sadly, this wonderful Victorian building is no longer a library, but a bar and restaurant (I haven’t been in it). I’m pretty sure that’s not an improvement.

Libraries are different now. They have computers, and laminate flooring, and shelf units on wheels that you can move about. I borrow e-books and audiobooks and never have to go anywhere near my local library. Which is probably just as well, because I’m very bad at remembering to take books back and I always end up with a fine.

But I am so looking forward to introducing my grandson to libraries. He’s only two and a half but he loves books already (of course he does!), and when he’s a little older I’ll be introducing him to the joy of a library. I can’t wait.

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