This week (8th-13th October) is Libraries Week! As a literature nerd, you can be sure of one thing: I love libraries.
I’ve recently been spending a lot of time in my local library (shoutout to Hants Library Services) and I discovered the existence of this week through a cute display arranged by my local library. Admittedly a lot of this time has been spent studying as I would love to fulfil my aspirations of becoming an English teacher, but I have made sure I’ve had some leisure breaks (in this case, and most cases, in the form of reading).
Why are libraries important? Why should we celebrate them?
I can tell you now that I would love to own every single book I’ve ever loved, to own every single book there is or ever was, but unfortunately that’s not viable. Many of us are linked to reading in some way, be that spending the minimum amount of time reading or fulfilling your every second with a new string of words, but regardless there are limitations; financing; health; focus.
Though there’s only so much that can be done and cases are rather situational, something that gives grace to the reasons we may not read is the library.
The library has been dated back to around 2600 and their main purpose was to be an archive for the works of poets, playwrights, philosophers. It has been suggested that this was the library of the temple of the Apollo on the Palatine. In more contemporary terms, the first public library opened in Peterborough in 1833.
The library provides an accessible space for avid readers and those seeking to fulfil their life through the form of literature. It provides a space to find yourself lost in another world as well as vastly containing the necessary for research (and you’ll know how great that is if you’ve ever done any kind of coursework). A great thing about libraries is that they’re free to use. This doesn’t eradicate the wealth gap in general, nor even in education, but it does make a lot of literary sources more financially accessible. In terms of accessibility, it is also a safe space for many people; The noise levels are beneficial to people prone to sensory overload as an escapism; Many people with mental health issues use the library as a safe space (as well as being an escape, many council events tend to be held, many of which may collide with the aim to better mental health)- Libraries week this year happens to actually have a central theme of mental health safety and awareness.
Is there anything you love uniquely about your library?
For me, my local library is pretty multi-functional. I will use it as a safe space, but I’ve so far more frequently used it to do course work in. It has many different themed areas and I love that it never feels too much like the same when I work for long periods of time. Also, there’s a café so if I need a coffee or a snack I don’t even have to leave! I also love the regulars that come in. I’ve not spoken to any, but they seem lovely and hearing their voices provides a certain level of comfort.
How many items do you have on loan at the moment, and what are they?
I currently have 2 items out on loan.
- The Waves, Virginia Woolf
The Waves isn’t a book I’ve heard as widely as many of her other works, and I admit wasn’t the book I was initially searching for, but it caught my attention when the book I planned to next read wasn’t available. The book follows the life of children, growing up, by the seaside, and the loss of a close friend- thought to be inspired by her own life experiences. The New York Times calls the writing ‘clear, bright, burnished… A true kind of poetry’.
- The Invisible Library, Genevieve Cogman
Interestingly, this book isn’t one I searched for. I was very taken by the library’s banned books display so felt a little heartbreak when it was taken down.. and as a result, I couldn’t resist seeing what had taken it’s place. Believe it or not, it was a display in advanced to celebrate Libraries Week! This book is about ‘a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities’ and ‘fighting to death’ for the retrieval of a ‘dangerous book’. I haven’t had a chance to read any of this book yet, but I’m more than excited to start it as soon as I can.
If you had to choose only three books to re-read on a cold autumn night, cosied around a fire, what would you choose?
- Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen
- The Complete Works of Sappho
- Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone
All three give me immense comfort in one way or another, and i’d say the reasons are pretty typical and predictable. I did also sit on ‘The Oxford Library Of English Poetry I-III anthology’ but had a realisation about the absolute lack of women poets in there- which isn’t a shock- but I’d prefer some early sapphic poetry from one of the most iconic ladies to live over the lack of balance provided. I do love many of the male poets’ works still, but I had good reason to swivel away from it.
I hope you guys are enjoying my blogtober series and the season of autumn as a whole.