Are you a library lover?

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Do you like to visit the library?

When I was small, we had a mobile library that would make visits to our local shops. It was so exciting! My little legs would climb the BIG steps and I would be delivered into a space of booky love. Would I be able to find The Rabbits Wedding or Harry the Dirty Dog on the shelves? Such joy when I was able to leave with them slipped snugly inside my library bag. I remember there were curtains drawn across the windows of the book bus. I have no idea why. Maybe it was to keep us immersed in stories away from the distractions of the outside world.

Visits to the library were a fantastic way to occupy time when my boy and girl were little. We would come home with more books than we could possibly read, audio books we could listen too and videos (yep, we’re that old!) we could watch. There was story time we could go to if I was feeling constrained within my four walls.

When my man was between jobs, he would take himself off to our local library or the State Library to peruse local history and old newspapers.

And whilst I love the plethora of information and avenues of escape that libraries offer in the pages of their books and magazines, they offer something else which is equally as great. They provide us with a sense of community. Walking into my local library, I feel a sense that I am a part of something. I am picking up books that have been shared and read by others. They are not mine; they are ours. I see parents reading with their children on bean bags or comfy couches, friends studying together, people enjoying time alone pursuing their own interests.  We are all coming together in this one space sharing a moment in our day.

Libraries support the learning and creativity of all those within their community. School children come together at homework clubs, authors visit to give talks, writing competitions are conducted. Our local library serves as a meeting point for a knitting group! Libraries promote programs within the area that broaden our minds and skills. Libraries offer opportunities regardless of means. I love that when the State Library of Victoria was built it was first known as the ‘People’s Library’ and that it was intended to act as a ‘university for the people’. Isn’t that a great egalitarian ideal?

What about you? Are you a library lover? Do you visit often or are your library days confined to your school days? If you’d like to read a more articulate expression of library love than mine, you may want to pop over to Brain Pickings to share in Ursula Le Guin’s thoughts on libraries.

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30 thoughts on “Are you a library lover?

  1. I love libraries – growing up my local was the Ithaca Library – the former council chambers which is now used a community centre (I think yoga) classes are taught there now. I made some wonderful discoveries there! I love the Brisbane City Council library HQ in the city – what a treasure trove but also frequent the libraries in the ‘burbs and shopping centres. My new local is the Annerley Library which really rocks a 70s vibe, has very helpful staff and is right next door the AA – what more could you ask for! Our State Library is pretty cool too!

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    1. You are true library liver, Inese! I think a 70s vibe sounds very cool. That would really take me back to my childhood! It’s great to be able to explore different authors and genres without having to go to the expense buying the book. No guilt if it doesn’t work and no unnecessary clutter on the shelves at home! Thanks for stopping by.

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      1. Hi again Carolyn
        I am writing series of homages to my new local ‘hood – Annerley, which I have renamed AnnaVegas, and the Library (and its staff) have a key role – look for it on the blog with Pip alumni page.
        Cheers
        The Hipsterette

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  2. Yes, libraries are the best! We visit a couple near us and they have lots of different stuff which is great. I go to the library to print things off too as we don’t have a printer at home.
    I remember reaching to the top shelf of the children’s library when I was little to grab Ant and Bee books!

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    1. The childhood anticipation of wondering what could be spied on the shelves was always very exciting. I went to see Stephen Fry last night and he talked about how he eagerly awaited the arrival of his mobile library so that he could feed his love of Oscar Wilde. And I like that you do your printing at the library. They are such a great community resource.

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  3. Ah, Carolyn. I love your Ode to Libraries. We would be the poorer for them. There are some beautiful quotes about reading and libraries around the dome of the State Library of Victoria, I thought this one was appropriate to your post: “I, who had always thought of Paradise in form and image as a library” ∼ Jorge Luis Borges. I do think a library is a kind of paradise. Books, CDs, films, newspapers all being shared by the community, for free. I feel like public libraries are a sign of a well-functioning society. I remember always feeling sad in PNG, that there were no public libraries for people to go to, and longed to get home and back to my local library to borrow 10 books and only read 1. Keep up your excellent library attendance! x

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    1. Oh that is a beautiful quote, Isabel. And I love your comment about borrowing ten books and reading one! It’s always so tempting to pick up an armful but realistically how much can you read in three weeks! And to not have access to one, as in PNG, it just denies a society knowledge x

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  4. I LOVE the library and have rediscovered it with my children. Although when I was studying at uni (after having my kids) there was nothing I loved more that a visit to the state library in Melbourne – the reading room; I just love it! Now I take my youngest to the library every couple of weeks – I borrow mags and she borrows picture books (my older two go to their school library so aren’t that interested in the local library at the moment). I often bump into someone I know, reaffirming the community aspect of a library. Your library looks beautiful – where is it?

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    1. Yes, I spent a bit of time in the Reading Room when I was at uni, too, with a collection of books brought up from the bowels of the library! School libraries certainly quash the need for the local library. The school libraries at both of our schools have been recently renovated and are amazing welcoming spaces. I recently went back to the Baillieu Library at Melbourne Uni – still has the same smell! Such an amazing collection of works in there. Thanks for you comment, Collette.

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  5. What a great topic, Carolyn! I’ve always grown up with libraries – I have very early memories of story time at the Kew Library, sitting in Big Ted’s lap. And now, since I work at a local council, I have the luxury of a library adjacent to my work place (very handy for collecting books for the kids and me). My local library is Balwyn (although I’ll occasionally pop over to the other ones) – so I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ll do with the renovations (will it be as inviting as Camberwell? We’ll have to see!)

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    1. Wah, we are haunting the same territory, Helen! I spent quite a bit of time with my daughter at Kew library whilst her brother was at music lessons nearby. We would also pop to Balwyn but Camberwell is closest for us. And it is so nice there now! Didn’t realise they were renovating Bakwyn. Exciting!

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      1. I think we are probably crossing paths, Carolyn! – and seeing what has happened with the other libraries makes me quite excited to find out how Balwyn will turn out!

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  6. I love the library, as children in our family we all used to go regularly. I remember getting Enid Blyton books and Tin Tin books. We are all big readers in our family, still love books, the smell of them especially when new. Our library had a big revamp a few years ago, the new one is bigger and better. It has a theatre off it now.

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    1. I spent so many hours reading Enid Blyton books! Did you hear they are making a movie of the Magic Faraway Tree? I was never a Tintin reader but my son loved them – and Asterix. Your library sounds lovely.

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      1. No I didn’t hear that news. I loved The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, do you remember them? Oh our new library was the talk of the town, they relocated it to a new spot and it’s a bit of an eye sore but at least we have one

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  7. “They are not mine; they are ours.” <- loved this, Carolyn. I am indeed a library lover but am ashamed to admit I have not visited my local one for many, many years. I have fond memories of it though and can still picture every aspect of it. I loved the chairs or bean bags that were sitting in the sun in lovely bay windows – what a glorious space to read in! You and Laura (who works at a library!) have inspired me to think about visiting my local library in the near future.

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    1. I think we go through phases, Jacquie. School and uni libraries tend to take over for quite a long time, don’t they? And they have a different feel. I don’t think I ever borrowed anything for leisure from school or uni.

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      1. They do indeed and you’re right – I’ve never borrowed books for leisure from the uni library (I did occasionally from the school library though). I think the quiet space is exactly what I need sometimes.

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  8. This is really great! I love how much you have captured about what a library means. I think they are very important spaces (perhaps a bit biased as I work in one! But I stand by my statement). Not everyday is easy, being the community space that you describe, and catering to the huge range of needs and wants in the community but I’m grateful that we get to try. My favourite memories are visiting the library as a child too. It was my favourite place and carting home huge bags of books was the best. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks, Laura! I’d love to be a librarian. I think it would be a lovely environment to work in although I am sure there would always be challenging customers! One of my friends is a teacher librarian. She has such an ace time sharing stories with her little – and not so little – ones. Thanks for stopping by!

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