Tag Archives: Libraries

Being Thankful For Libraries

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you in America today – apologies to any readers in Norfolk Island who had it yesterday, Liberia who had it on the 7th and those of you in Canada who had it on October 14th. We don’t have it here in the UK but I did go off and discover more about it and how its a celebration of thanks for a good harvest and so I was thinking about the things that I am really thankful for in the book world – I pride myself on the fact it appears I can link almost anything to books or make it booky.

I was going to do a list of the authors I am most thankful for but then I thought of something else that I should be all the more thankful for as without it I wouldn’t be reading at all. The Library! For if all those many moons ago when my mother needed to revise for her degree (as she took me to university with her, brave woman) the library was there. Whenever we moved around to a new place, the library was there. When we couldn’t decide what to do on a Saturday, the library was there. Indeed after my many years in the bookless wilderness and getting back into the swing of it, the library was there. When I have moved around since leaving London, the library has been there. And of course all my favourite authors, all my favourite books and many more to discover.

I am very thankful to the library and indeed have popped there today where I binged on Jon Ronson and the Maus Graphic Novel – another out look on World War II which I seem to have become slightly obsessed with recently. As I wandered around I felt doubly thankful as its all free, all those books, all those adventures waiting to happen – so this seemed an apt post to pop up today. And if I wasn’t enough I thought you might all like this, it is an oldie but a goodie…

So thank you to libraries, have a wonderful thanksgiving if you are celebrating it and if not pop to your library and give thanks, and borrow some books from it, anyway. Or pop there tomorrow if its too late now. And if you haven’t joined your library go and do it sharpish as the greatest way of showing thanks for them is to keep them going so future bookworms can be thankful too. Let me know what or who you come back with!

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A Library Reborn…

I mentioned earlier in the week, when I was asking which five books you would fill a library with first, that I had the pleasure of a sneak preview tour of Liverpool’s all new and revamped library. Well today I thought I would share some pictures of what the stunning £50,000,000 make over and restoration book project has achieved because there is no question that it is one of the most impressive libraries I have ever been around and one which should prove a destination for book lovers all around the world as a complete book haven.

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From the outside of the library it looks very like many central library’s around the UK, a grand Victorian building constructed in grandeur and stone that is built to last. Indeed the facade is from the 1800’s and is Grade II listed. What it has hidden behind it though is rather like something out of a science fiction novel or the future…

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Many people have mentioned Star Trek apparently…

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Isn’t that just incredible!?! Normally I am not a fan of knocking down building and leaving the facade but a) I think this entrance will bring people flocking from miles around to have a nosey and encourage people locally to do the same getting more readers via inquisitive footfall b) they didn’t knock the original down but a 1970’s ugly edition that had replaced it prior. So in this case I am all for what they have done and love the welcoming ‘Read’ section where all the contemporary fiction is housed with its matching contemporary feel and shelves that light up.

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As you go on through the building each floor is dedicated to a different zone. ‘Discover’ is a library for children I could only have dreamed of in my youth…

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Further floors about include ‘Enquire’, for all your reference and academic books as well as ‘Archive’ which if you want to learn about the past, not only of Liverpool, has the most exceptional resources…

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It made me feel like I was in a movie and could go and solve some cold case murder. Anyway… You also have the top floor which is named ‘Meet’ where there are meeting rooms as well as the most amazing roof terrace which I think you will find me on for most of the summer sat with a book frankly.

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Though if you don’t like heights maybe take the lift back down afterwards…

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What is also amazing is apart from all this modern wonder the restoration project has been amazing. Both ‘The Oak Room’ and ‘The Hornby Library’ were rooms the public had not been able to use since their construction in 1914 and so were storage rooms. Now they have been restored to the initial glory and are area’s where you can see rare books from all around the world through all points in history.

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We even got to see them bringing out John James Audubon’s massive ‘Birds of America’, described as the greatest natural history book ever produced which was oddly thrilling.

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My favourite room of all, though room seems slightly inadequate as it’s gargantuan really, is the Picton Reading Room which too has been restored to its former glory and houses all the ‘reading only’ copies of books as well as the ‘reserved’ central stock.

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The reserved stock looks amazing, I was thinking of all the out of print or special older editions of books that might be found…

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Because really the shelves are endless…

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Isn’t it amazing? You can tell where I am going to be spending a lot of time on and off over the coming months and years. I am actually thinking of moving in and seeing if anyone notices? Do you think I would get away with it? It certainly highlights what a library can be in the modern world, if only everyone saw every little library as important as the people here have the central library. We need them after all don’t we?

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Two Lovely Bookish Bits to Share…

I was going to do a post on ‘funny ladies’ today but I thought I would share with you two bookish bits and bobs that I have discovered in the last twenty four hours and wanted to share with you all as I thought you might enjoy them.

The first is a wonderfully heart warming story of a man called Guanlao (or Nanie by locals) in Manila who because he loved books so much, and had rather a lot, decided that he would leave some outside with a note saying ‘free to read’. Now if you did that round my way you would either never see them again for dust or possibly find them sat outside soggy in the rain (Autumn seems to have arrived). However much to Guanlao’s surprise people borrowed them, brought them back and added to the collection. Now he has a public library of his own which now looks like this…

You can read the story in full here (and a big thanks to Polly, who I wish would get blogging again, for sending it me). I think it is a wonderful, wonderful story of a wonderful man and how books do have a real power. I could go all deep but I shall refrain.

Now that your hearts are feeling all warm and fuzzy, hopefully, I thought I would share something with you which I found on YouTube by chance yesterday and made me almost cry with laughter. Here is Ellen DeGeneres trying to read for an audiobook of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, it is pure brilliance…

Isn’t that hilarious? Anyway hopefully that has brought some bookish joy into your days as it did mine. I am still thinking about that man and his public library; it is so inspiring I almost want to do something similar. Don’t you?

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Am I A Library Addict?

When the lovely Gavin and I were recording the third episode of The Readers the other day, we started talking about libraries as a journalist at The Telegraph said that they weren’t needed anymore. So Gavin and I were having a discussion about it, which will sadly not see the light of day in the form intended as I ended up waffling and going off on tangents, and when I said how many books I currently had our from the two different libraries that I have joined Gavin said it sounded like an addiction… I think he might be right.

You see currently I do have rather a lot of books from both Manchester and Stockport libraries.  In fact you can see as I took a picture (I won’t list them all, don’t worry)…

But really to have maxed my ten loans from one library (with three books on order) and seven out of eight possible titles from the other library I am pushing it a little, and even though I get lots and lots of books through the door it doesn’t stop me.

The thing is you should use your library, and not just for the free internet which is what said Telegraph journalist said that was pretty much the only reason people go, because if no one uses them then they will vanish. Yet you shouldn’t hoard from them either and keep renewing them, something I am an absolute nightmare for.

The thing is there is always a book I ‘quite fancy giving a whirl’ or a book ‘for book group’ you wouldn’t have picked up yourself, a recommendation from someone you aren’t quite convinced about, a book you simply cant find in any book shops or an author you ‘really must try’. All those apply to the books above and this is where the library is great. It costs nothing and you can try all sorts of books you might not other wise and therefore discover new future favourite authors. I mean I could ask a publisher for a book I might want to try, but what if I hate it? I would rather try it out via the library its part of their function. There is of course the problem of giving the ones you love back; a small price to pay though isn’t it?

I do need to stop pressing the renew button, so over the next few days I am trimming these books down, amongst of course reading lots of spooky stories. So what have you taken out from the library of late, what gems have you discovered in the past and what favourite authors have you befriended thanks to your library?

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When Librarian’s Go Bad…

I don’t know about you but anytime I see something on the telly thats book related I always want to share it.  One such thing of late has been the psychotic librarian in ‘Psychoville’, which I have only just started watching and is one of the most bonkers TV shows there is, who has been making me laugh hysterically. The thing is invariably these clips won’t be on certain video based websites for quite some time. Well imagine my joy to discover that part of the long running story of Jeremy the psychotic librarian, and his alter ego ‘The Silent Singer’, have turned up. So I simply had to share it with other book lovers out there. Be warned… its a bit creepy but that’s, in part what makes it so funny (oh, and apologies for the red writing that comes over it occasionally – bear with it though)…

I don’t know why but I just find it hilarious. Is it just me? I am desperate for the rest of the storyline to appear so I can share the whole lot. I have also been trying to find a library based comedy clip of my favourite comediene at the moment, Miranda Hart, but no luck so far.

Anyway just a little mini post today, lots and lots going on with The Green Carnation Prize at the moment, more on that later in the week though. I hope you are all having a lovely weekend whatever you are upto?

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Libraries Will Survive…

I was actually looking for another, very, very, very, very funny library based clip on youtube when I found this wonderful and rather fabulous video which I thought you would all appreciate and , so do watch..

Well we all hope they do don’t we? And who says librarians are boring? I never have but I really, really love this lot!

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Picture Books & Story Sacks

Who would have thought that picture books would have become such a big part of my life? Ok maybe with the fact I am temporarily living with a pair of two year olds should have given me a clue, but who knew I would be almost thirty years old and enjoying picture books and story reading quite so much? Well it seems I really am because if I were to list the amount of them I have read, and then list the amount of times I have re-read them they would at least quadruple the amount of adult books I have read. Yes, I know picture books are much smaller, but you know what I mean.

One book that has simply stolen my heart is ‘Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book’ by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. In fact when it went missing for a few weeks (it has only just dawned on me that maybe it was hidden from me and my desire to read it two my youngest relatives so often) I was rather bereft. It’s a children’s book all about books, in fact I think maybe it deserves its own post in the near future – seriously if you love books it’s a book you will love, and its one that is a real joy to spend time reading to children. Not that that is the only book I read to the girls of course.

The library has become a huge treat, even more than it was before, now that myself and two trusty companions head their each week (well when I am not having some hospital treatment of some sort or other) with only one thing on our minds… to try and read as many books as we can in the venue before taking the ones that we want to read the most again and again for a week or two. It is utter bliss.

It’s a joy that has gotten even more joyful ever since we discovered something even more exciting… story sacks…

Not only do you get a book, in this case ‘No Room For A Baby Roo!’ by Neil Griffiths, but you get a whole load of other things too. There is an audiobook, a host of cuddly toys to enact the story with (though these couldn’t all be featured in the shot above as they had been taken to bed for afternoon knaps, no not by me) along with scenery. It’s a real experience and one I can’t quite yet work out who is enjoying more, me or them? These story sacks are free in libraries and yet another reason why we need to keep libraries alive. I have only recently discovered the joys of reading aloud to youngsters but it’s an experience that I am treasuring and really enjoying. It’s also nice to know that the warm, cosy feeling of being read to as a child I am passing on in some way.

Have you found the joys of a story sack? Which picture books do you still think of or even read? What were your favourite stories that you had read aloud?  What’s your earliest memory of a library?

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