Thursday 11 April 2013

Libraries I have known: Eight, Nine and Ten (and Two again)

Eight : The Taylor Institution Library, Oxford

I worked as a library assistant at the Taylorian and Modern Language Library for about the length of a pregnancy. I loved it, but nine months was enough really. I wasn't made to be a librarian - too fidgety and too noisy probably - not that that really bothered the other librarians. Highlights for me were climbing ladders to fetch books, sniggering at the academics and students sleeping in the library, covering books (I love craft) and decorating the gorgeous library for Christmas. 

The Taylor is a beautiful building, and Oxford is a very eccentric place. We had to be quiet (that was amusing, like being in assembly *all the time*). And the colleagues provided a lot of entertainment. One special moment included a member of staff asking in a stage whisper (there was a LOT of stage-whispering), 'Have you seen the Liquor?' My fellow library assistant and I looked at each other and then back to the colleague. 'What?' we whispered, incredulous. 'The Liquor!' she whispered. Then she mimed licking with her tongue. 'The Licker,' she insisted. She gave up on us, shoved us out of the way and retrieved a horrible little tray filled with dirty water and a roller of plastic. It was to moisten bookplates for the books. I tried not to touch it. I would have rather licked the bookplates. 

The heating broke in winter and we sat behind the desk in gloves and hats. We waded through floods to work and dried our socks on the ancient radiators. We sang show tunes in the staff room, only to realise the door was open...


Nine : The Open University Library

The OU is my new hang out. It's a nice quiet (ha) library and has a great collection - not too big, not too small. It's close to home and only £40 per year for civilians. Weird thing about the OU is that there are hardly any students. That's why I like the coffee shop at Cranfield University for a bit more of a social experience.

I go back to Library Two in Newport Pagnell pretty often - recently I've been on a 'Teen Fiction' bender. If I have time I'll post about the books I've been loving.

And finally...

Ten : Gladstone's Library

I went to Gladstone's Library (or St. Deiniol's) for the first time in the autumn. I wasn't too well while I was there, but the smell of the stacks was so pleasing that I couldn't help but enjoy myself. I had forgotten (how could I?) the joy of wandering amongst books, choosing from the shelf, taking a stack to a desk and flicking. It's a gorgeous spot and the porridge is great. 

Someone slept in there, others clicked on laptops, I had the noisiest shoes (I always have) and I managed to write something. 

That's all my libraries. For now. 

If you're at a loose end, go down your local library and snoop around. Get yourself some teen fiction!

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