There is something about the smell, about walking in to a Library and, bang you are hit by that musty, booky smell. The one that has stayed with you since childhood.
I often take the minimads to the small library in the village. They love playing with the books, the stacking plastic chairs and also the jigsaws, which are never complete. They adore the thrill of having their own plastic library cards and being responsible for taking out their own books and putting them in mummy’s book bag.
But the other day I took Mini to the library of my childhood. The main library on the street where I grew up, the street on which my mum still lives.
So much is the same, but so much has changed in the last 30 off years. The smell is just the same, it hit me straight between the solar plexus triggering all sorts of happy memories of Meg and Mog, of dancing on graves and of worrying about fines for late returned books.
The children’s section is still in the same part of the library, but you have to walk through a theft detection device now and go through a swing gate before you can enter it to the left. It still has the wooden crates on the floor full of picture and board books. The red train seats and the blue faux leather adult chairs. There are still images on the red brick 1960 walls drawn by children who attend the regular reading sessions like I did.
The brick fishpond has gone and in its place a tank with small exotic fish. No longer can you throw a penny in amongst the water and vegetation and listen to it plop against the bottom. Gone are the vinyl seat cushions which used to rest on benches made of bricks.
However, all the rest remains the same, apart from the row of 12 PC’s which run across the centre of the library where I remember their being microfiche.
The counter is still in the same place made with the same 1960’s brick. The whole library is a glass and steel structure with brick internal fittings and supports. It must have looked for modern in the 1960’s when it was build.
I remember meeting friends at the cafe in the entrance with my mum and baby brother in his buggy. I loved the Eames metal chairs with their orange seats. I would be allowed an orange squash and have a biscuit from the packet mum got with her tea.
How sad that these wonderful seats and squash have been replaced by a frothy coffee and bland brown leather sofa’s.
A strange place for me it holds so many memories and lies juxtaposed between history, fiction and imagination.