Sally Evans

November 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

Her Faith in Libraries

She carried her novel around in a ring binder and continued it in York Reference Library. She went to the Mystery Plays in a silk dress. She was wresting away from the Christian faith and it left her, but she never lost her faith in libraries.

The London Library in Jermyn Street where well known writers pottered in and out.

The hum of lighting or heating among multi-storeyed reference books, Swiss Cottage, Newcastle University Library where the stacks descended like the engine room of a ship, where the bronze girl reader stood on the curving stair, in a reverie forever.

Her first experience of the social work a lending library does. The old man Weasel reading the newspapers, the odd little side room, rare and rescued tomes in corridors, the sequence of modern novels that might one day include her own.

The school where the library was a former classroom, a knobbly plastic floor and an outlook on playing fields of gulls, the art of reading and reference painstakingly imparted to youngsters, nonconfomers sent from around the school, for the non-trained-teacher to deal with when the teachers could not.

The children’s library where the family of readers lived right across the road, and the librarian made a rule that you could only change your books twice a day (maximum).

The library full of computers. The distinguished poet fetched from Glasgow in the librarian’s car, reading his work to the library users who were also members of the local literary society, known by sight.

Library assistants on a quiet day, standing around wooden tills for legally dubious fines, changing their ugly wooden ticket trays for ugly plastic computer cards, gossiping with one another.

The staff at Nottingham City Library in their staff room, trying to arrange the names of the staff into a sentence: Long Green Birch Seeds Cann Nott Birch Wilkes.

The tiny highland library with the Gaelic lessons, where the Gaelic teacher was accompanied by the young man in love with him.

The lending library in Edinburgh where she took her granddaughter’s books back with some involved story, and how nice the lady was.

The little circular lending library in Jesmond, built when she lived there, still a landmark when she stayed with a friend after coming down from Scotland and reading poetry in Northumbria University, across the road from Newcastle University, and right by the Civic Centre where she got married for the first time.

No she never lost her faith in libraries.

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