Public Lending Libraries – gateway to adventure

As a child I was dragged to the local library once a week, every week by my mother. “Books are good for you” she would tell me and as she was a voracious reader, it all seemed perfectly normal.

That was until I ran out of books.

You see, back then the local library was split into a children’s section and an adult section. I was pretty fed up with all the stupid kids books. They didn’t inspire or amuse me. So I ended up in a constant battle with the librarians.

You can’t take that book out on your ticket. It needs to be a children’s book.

Back then the “ticket” was a little cardboard sleeve with the top right corner clipped off, so that the cards that were tucked into pockets in the front of the book, could be inserted. This was how they knew who had what book.

Where I grew up we were around 10 miles from a provincial airport so there were always plenty of aircraft going overhead and I wanted to know how they worked. So I grabbed this huge book from the shelf and had taken it with my card to the counter I could barely see over. I was around seven at the time.

That’s when I heard the line once again. “Not on your card. Please put the book back on the shelf“.

OK I thought. I put the book back on the shelf and stomped my way out of the building. I knew I had a plan and would be back tomorrow.

The next day I turned up with my dad’s card. An adult card. That should fettle them!

Sure enough, I took the book to the counter once again. “I told you yesterday. You can’t take that book out with your card” the now stern looking librarian told me. (Remember this was back in the day when tweed clad Librarians spent most of their time saying “SSssshhhh!” at people.)

With a look of victorious triumph I presented the librarian with my Dad’s card and lied through my teeth, “My dad wants it. He told me to come and get it for him”.

I suspect the librarian knew exactly what was going on. She turned to a colleague and they had a short, but very quiet chat.

I am pretty sure when she stamped the return date in the front of the book she did it a lot harder than she normally did.

The next seven years saw my dad reading a lot of adult category books. Trains, Planes, Cars, Stamp Collecting, the armed forces, spies etc. ‘He‘ was into everything despite working all the hours God sent.

Every time I would get the scowl off the librarian. She even commented one time “Your dad reads a lot“. It was all I could do to keep the smirk off my face.

Public lending libraries. They’re important. Support them. They’re more than just books these days.


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