The Magic of Libraries

As a kid it was a Saturday morning custom for my dad to take me and my sister to Holmfirth library. We browsed the shelves, selected a book, and took it home to devour. And there from a tender age our worlds opened up in those typed pages. Stories have always been a gift.

From Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, to Sheffield, to Margate, South Africa, to Okehampton, Devon, to Exeter, most places I sought a library card. Whether looking for knowledge, or inspiration, or a story to grab and transport you to another world for a time, for me, that humble little card always gave me

a sense of belonging.

I moved to Exeter in 2006, into a fabulous bedsit with a high ceiling, filled with anticipation of new friends I might meet in this delightful city I have long called home. A couple of weeks in, driving through the country roads to work, and CRASH, literally a head on collision. A fractured collar bone, a broken finger, and I returned to my bedsit bandaged and bruised. I had yet to meet anyone in my new home town, but I did have one thing, a library card. St Thomas library became my refuge, a place I visited most days as I devoured story after story whilst on sick leave.

One arm in a sling, sporting a black eye, I returned my latest borrow, ‘One for Sorrow, two for joy,’ and received a sympathetic smile from the kind librarian as she said, ‘My husband once did that to me.’

As I savoured the touch of meaningful human contact, I smiled in return, anticipating the look of disbelief as I replied, ‘I was in a car crash.’

This community hub, taking pride of place on the Exe Bridges, was to close. I watched in disbelief as after months of building and refurb that gave nothing away, an expectant crowd looked on to watch the opening of a pound shop. Gutted!

Thankfully, though smaller, our treasured library clung to life, re-emerging nestled in amongst the terraced houses. And with its amazing team of innovative thinkers it soldiers on, jostling for position in this hasty world, maintaining a presence, however humble, with the power to reach into communities, to the young, the old, parents, writers, singers, shopkeepers, avid readers, giving us all that crucial sense of belonging.

Happy Monday!

  4 comments for “The Magic of Libraries

  1. Kate Barlow
    December 18, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    Brilliant blog, it’s great that we have kept that wonderful little library.

  2. Daphne
    December 28, 2017 at 10:59 am

    What a truly wonderful, moving blog & I agree with the sentiments 100%. St Thomas library as well as being a brilliant small library also provides our local community with many & varied opportunities to attend events there. The range & diversity of events is extensive, they include; live music, unique talks, authors’ reading, puppetry, a film club, book groups, numerous events for children, book sales etc,etc!

    • Susie
      December 28, 2017 at 5:35 pm

      Thank you for your lovely comment, Daphne. I agree, our wonderful local library does a marvellous job at maintaining a diverse, creative presence.

  3. Anna Harvey
    January 3, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    Libraries really are a hub and such an important part of our communities, beautifully put Susie. Also, I was gutted when they knocked down that lovely building!

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