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  • Libraries

    They are a pillar of information in everyone's local area, and they don't just have books either these days. The stereotype of "old school" libraries was that one was not allowed to make a sound when inside one - and one had to read quietly otherwise a conservative (with a small C) librarian would put you back in place with a rejoined and a very assertive "shush". They are just as much information stations with computers and the like - a bit like what washing machines are to launderettes and telephones are to phone boxes. And the noticeboards full of what's happening locally and support groups etc, a la the doctors' surgery.

    Just like lots of people, I first set foot in a library as part of being at school, in a "let's go and get that book to read because the school's book corner cannot afford a copy of its own". On Thursday afternoons, (the day of the week when the library was closed; it was Thursdays because of special events like the building being used as a Polling Station for elections and referendums) that was when we went. Our class walked in pairs down the road to the local library for a "storyteller" session, and then a few minutes to choose our books and get them stamped by the "storyteller" before leaving. Many "Words and Pictures" TV series-influenced books were popular such as those from the genre as Pat Hutchins, Shirley Hughes, David McKee, Allan Ahlberg, and the recently departed Eric Carle who told his tale of his almost starved-to-death caterpillar.

    The talking books came later - for the adults were music tapes and Radio 4-alike Book at Bedtime abridgements, and the children, anything from nursery rhymes to Roald Dahl. When I borrowed a Postman Pat talking book from the local library, I copied it onto a blank C90 on the twin cassette deck hi-fi in the bedroom before returning it to the library and borrowing something else. For a while afterwards, listening to a Postman Pat talking book used to get me to sleep at night, and I was a few years above the recommended age group for Pat at the time! Either that or Radio Trent's Talkback circa 1987. A few years later, I borrowed the talking book version of JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit, and enjoyed six hours of Bilbo Baggins' adventures while getting earache listening to Michael Hordern (or someone similar) setting the scene whilst observing the audio situation on a Sony Walkman.

    In later years, I made up for my school refusal as a result of getting an education amongst thousands of books at the Nottingham Central Library - apart from shopping, that was my next main reason to take an NCT bus into town into NG1-land, and it was a lot cheaper as well - spending the hours in the library, mixing education with research and hobbies. I discovered the Microfilm editions of the local newspapers and for the first time I saw a newspaper published on the day I was born and saw what was on television on that day as well. I picked up the bug quite easily and looked at the birthdate newspapers for other family members as well, and then for big events in history and so on - I even managed to fill a scrapbook of printouts from Microfilm editions of news articles where I had managed to remember the date of the edition and even in some cases, the page which it was originally published on. I did GCSE History at school which was one of the traits I had towards my interest in the past.

    I enjoyed maps as well, particularly the historical ones where one would see familiarly built up areas as they were recently demoted back in time to open fields and allotments, and a city was the village of 200 years ago. The huge map sheets pulled out of a drawer, placed vertically inside so that they cannot be folded or curled up. They make just as much a great illustration of life as it was as any photograph would have back then. I have always been fascinated with maps and atlases and have loads of them at home. Now in the internet age, the internet is my library now - since Covid, I haven't been able to visit a library anyway, but it's great to see old editions of The Times and the Daily Express and it is like Doctor Who going back in a time machine. No, libraries are not for boring people who wear tweed jackets and National Health glasses.

    Were libraries interesting to you, or did you think that they had too much of a "Roy Cropper" stereotype of being boring because the librarian stereotype tending to not want any noise?

    I've everything I need to keep me satisfied
    There's nothing you can do to make me change my mind
    I'm having so much fun
    My lucky number's one
    Ah! Oh! Ah! Oh!

  • #2
    I haven't been to the library since Jan 2020,I used to love going choosing my books bringing them home and reading them.I have done 2 learning courses one 10 years ago the other the following year.I started going to the book club in Sept 2019 each month until Jan 2020,as I explained haven't been since.Also you could pick up green recycle bags,scrap waste bags.I never went to read newspapers which was popular with some people.I wonder how many more branches have had to close since the pandemic and never reopen.By the way my local library is an old building about 100 yrs old

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    • #3
      I suppose that the internet has made the library a bit redundant in recent years, especially during the lockdown - another British tradition is almost gone.
      I've everything I need to keep me satisfied
      There's nothing you can do to make me change my mind
      I'm having so much fun
      My lucky number's one
      Ah! Oh! Ah! Oh!

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by George 1978 View Post
        I suppose that the internet has made the library a bit redundant in recent years, especially during the lockdown - another British tradition is almost gone.
        Surprising how many libraries were closing down before covid

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        • #5
          You don't think that bookshops and WHSmith had anything to do with people not borrowing from libraries and buying books outright?
          I've everything I need to keep me satisfied
          There's nothing you can do to make me change my mind
          I'm having so much fun
          My lucky number's one
          Ah! Oh! Ah! Oh!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by George 1978 View Post
            You don't think that bookshops and WHSmith had anything to do with people not borrowing from libraries and buying books outright?
            Might have been but a lot of people like libraries cause the books are free

            Comment

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