For a large part of my life, libraries were my sanctuary. My parents were regular visitors and would take my brother and I in every few weeks. My child’s allocation of four books would rarely be enough, so I’d often use some of my parents allowance to pick up all my favourites.
At school the library was a place to hide. I was quiet and bespectacled and bookish and had trouble making friends – the whole clichéd bundle – so the social whirl of school left me dizzy. The library was my escape. I would curl into the rough fabric chairs and read and read and read until I thought my head would burst. Then I read some more. Sometimes I went there to cry, hiding in the stacks. looked for comfort in the musty scented pages and plastic covers. They couldn’t get me in the library – whether they were external demons or the ones lurking inside me.
I’d like to say things were better in colleague and uni and in many ways they were, but life isn’t like a movie and I didn’t suddenly become more confident via a musical montage. The library was still my place of safety, my area of retreat when life became too confusing.
When I started working, the library was no longer a place to hide, but a place to be free. My writing kept me going and the library kept me writing. I was fortunate to be able to walk to the library from my work place and so most lunchtimes I would disappear down there, pull out my note book and plough away at whatever I was working on. I’d do research, dip into any books that took my fancy, even people watch and for at least an hour a day, let my mind escape and run free before locking it back in it’s box again. It kept me sane.
Roll forward to the present and I’m no longer working close enough to a library to escape at lunchtime. But my current job affords me some degree of creativity so I don’t feel quote so stifled. My visits to the library are now confined to the weekends.
I am on better terms with the world at large now, but I will forever be grateful to libraries for sheltering in me during my times of need.
Love your local library.
Fight for it.
Preserve it, not only for the books, but also for the soul.