Monday, 14 September 2015

Public libraries

When I was a kid living in Stamford Hill, I joined the Stamford Hill library.

To me then, it looked huge; in retrospect, it was quite small. But it certainly had a lot of books.

At first, I read books from the children's library; Swallows and Amazons, Dr Doolittle, Biggles and loads more. Then I wandered into the adults library, and found the non-fiction areas. Maths, physics, engineering. And then adult fiction - Three men in a boat, PG Wodehouse, A A Milne. The rules said I was allowed three tickets, but I was (and still am) a fast reader; I read a *lot* of boots. The librarian recognised this, and let me have ten tickets, and I swapped books every week.

I got into science fiction, Ian Fleming, crime, adventure. I read "Keeping up with the Joneses" and 1066. Atkinson and Searle. Even now, ladysolly and I find that we read the same books, from that same library.

Then I discovered that I could also join Tottenham library, just a short bus ride away. And then Hackney library. I had 30 tickets, so I only needed to visit the library every two weeks.
It never took me long to choose the next batch of books, there was so many possibilities. How do you carry 30 books? I used my sister's old folding pram.

Today, with rather more disposable income, I buy my books from Amazon. I still enjoy a trip to Foyles, except that the weight of books I can carry home is limited. And there's tons of free books on the internet,

But I think it's really really important for there to be free public lending libraries, financed out of general taxation, so that people on low income (like we were) can plunder the trasure house of literature.

Sadly, there don't seem to be many who agree with that.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps you could do something like Andrew Carnegie did :)