Snuggling between the covers

2014-06-02 10.35.36

Our local library is under threat of closure. So are many more.

When we moved into our first house –  a tip that was a classic 1980s Yuppie doey-uppey – mum and dad came to help us move in. It was a snowy January, the place was freezing, the kitchen, such as it was, a mess. There was one carpet, no curtains and bugger all to recommend it. Mum was ecstatic at the potential, dad depressed at the work involved.

Ever the practical one, while dad and I heaved furniture hither and yon mum went off to find some milk and bread. She came back, if anything, even more ecstatic.

‘You’ve a Carnegie!!’

‘A what?’

“A Carnegie library. Best contribution by a Scot to London (Mum was very capable of dissing our fellow Brits and denying Carnegie’s American citizenship in one breath).

2014-06-02 10.35.48

Sure enough, just around the corner from our new home sat, in a strange orange hue a fabulous, slightly damp, musty smelling library. To mum the existence of a civilisation was shown by (a) the propensity of the people to make flower gardens and (b) the proximate availability of a free lending library.

Some of my earliest memories centre around libraries, not always happy ones. As a small boy I didn’t feel any inclination to read, unlike the Archaeologist who started young, started fast and hasn’t stopped. He devours books with the alacrity of a Dementor given the freedom of Motown. Mum and dad encouraged him while I whined about going outside to play a game.

Eventually I came to appreciate their benefits and have continued to do so, but for a hiatus at University where an unconscionable amount of my life was spent in the law library pouring over tomes so old that some copies were made out of stone. I lost my eyesight thus (and not as a result of any other soapy teenage pursuit).

But I’ll admit I can hardly complain about closure because I don’t use it. There. Mea Culpa. I deserve to be immediately unfollowed

Charli’s prompt this week has, necessarily, engendered much guilt.

March 2, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a library. You can honor the libraries in your own experience, dream about libraries of the future or explore a community without one. Bonus points for discovering something you didn’t know your library offered. For example, my library offers organic and heirloom seeds.

Mary received a letter last week about her half -sister reopening a mystery that has been plaguing all of us for months…

Lending a hand

‘Shh.’ Mary stilled the grizzling baby. ‘She’s teething. You don’t mind?’

‘Libraries can’t afford to these days. Do you need a hand?’

‘A map of Ireland?’

‘You can use the computers.’

‘I prefer a map. To see the bigger picture.’

As the librarian found the map, he asked, ‘Holiday?’

‘I’m trying to trace my twin sister.’

‘Are you from there?’

‘No. I’ve just heard she may have lived in Galway.’

‘Good luck. Can you sign the petition? Against closure.’

‘Of course. We mustn’t lose the library. It’s too important.’

‘Ah well, if only people would see the bigger picture.’

You’ll find the back story for Mary here.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published three books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Salisbury Square. In addition I published an anthology of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand this summer. A fourth book will be out soon. This started life as a novel in a week on this blog and will follow later this year. I blog about all sorts at geofflepard.com and welcome all comments. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
This entry was posted in creative writing, flash fiction, London, writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

49 Responses to Snuggling between the covers

  1. How handy of Charli to send you all these little pointers for your story 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Sacha Black says:

    Im not sure I am any the wiser as to what a carnegie library is, but I do think its rather beautiful

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Ah…the Carnegie connection…very strong in my husband’s hometown of Pittsburgh, Pa. So sad what is happening to libraries, book stores, etc. In my mind, the electronics will never replace a paper book. As a child, the local library was a source of refuge from a very noisy, chaotic home life. I spent a lifetime surrounding myself/family with books. No regrets. Nice post and story. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Allie P. says:

    I worked in my university library for a few years. I think that smell is universal.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Great introduction

    Like

  6. It will be a sad day when there are no more libraries. When we return to Ireland I will join a local one because it is the one place that you can browse through books before reading and without a salesperson giving you a filthy look, a place that you can walk out of with six books under your arm that you have not paid for and not get arrested and when you return them four weeks later you can have another six.. Not to mention the DVD’s and those that now have coffee shops..

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Gulara says:

    Great story, Geoff. I love libraries, so this post warmed my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Judy Martin says:

    That looks a mighty impressive library, Geoff. The one we have here is very modern with a coffee shop and wedding venue, oh and the local council department where they have the delicatessen ticket system for people wanting to pay their bills!
    I do hope we don’t lose the local libraries, for the same reasons that Sally mentions.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. jan says:

    I would agree with your Mom’s assessment of civilization! Library closures are always the pits.

    Like

  10. restlessjo says:

    I don’t possess a Kindle and only buy books second hand so the library is an essential part of my lifestyle. I was there just today, in fact, before the wind and rain drove me indoors again. 🙂 Have a good weekend, Geoff!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I never knew about this Carnegie Library thing… and after a quick googlelation discovered there was one in my New Zealand hometown of Levin – now bulldozed over and replaced with an open community space where only yesterday, still among books, I played a set of Haydn sonatas on their piano to the mainly unappreciation of those trying to read.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. According to Wiki there is one here where I live. I’ve never entered its doors though – which says a lot about my reading habits in the past decade! I used to buy books – had a room full of wonderful, fascinating, beautiful books. Now I read what I am provided by my lovely eldest the book publisher and the odd author. 🙂 And on-line. That was a great prompt! I like your mother!!

    Like

  13. Anabel Marsh says:

    We still have several Carnegie libraries in Glasgow. Definitely a Scot from Dunfermline, whatever he later became.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. merrildsmith says:

    I love libraries–I always have. I love to go in and just browse. I didn’t know there were Carnegie libraries all over–I thought just the Pittsburgh area. It’s sad that so many might be closed.

    I have a family member who recently found her secret family, but I don’t think she used the library to find them. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      They are such a great institution. The thing I love about Carnegie, as with Gates is he didn’t leave his fortune to his kids to waste but made them make their own way. Not that that will be a dilemma for me, being a SKIN – Spend the Kids Inheritance Now.

      Liked by 2 people

      • merrildsmith says:

        Yeah, something my kids won’t have to worry about either. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • roweeee says:

        What I’ve never heard mentioned is about the grandchildren spending the kids inheritance. Mine are doing a pretty good job of it…especially my daughter. She has Mum wrapped around her little finger and compared to anything she spends on clothes, my daughter’s requests are considered “cheap”. Mind you, I can’t complain. Mum got me a credit card so I didn’t become a Sydney Uni hippy like her sister (who is now a professor mind you!)
        All the talk about library closures in this series has surprised me. I’m not aware of local libraries closing here. I get too attached to books to borrow them and write all over them, which isn’t appreciated. Plus, I return them late.
        I have become quite friendly with librarian at the kids’ old school. I found out she would take the kids pre-loved books and toys. She now lets me make a cup of teaand read the paper out the back…privileges!
        Hope you are having a great week. It was my son’s birthday yesterday and you couldn’t have squeezed more arguments into a day if you tried. I felt quite depressed by the end of it but fortunately we sang happy birthday to him at scouts and that cheered the two of us up. The scouts were happy too. I made chocolate chip cookies and they always evapoate on impact.
        xx Rowena

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        Ah yes, fractious birthdays. I suppose everyone has their share of the ‘It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to’ mindset. Week is ok. Rather taxi service driven and my laptop is being a bit precious just now. Hey, first world problems.

        Liked by 1 person

      • roweeee says:

        We also get the “It’s not my birthday but I’m not going to miss out on the limelight.”
        Hope your laptop starts behaving.
        Opened the front door and there was solid fog. Dropped the kids off and headed to the beach with the camera. It was quite eerie with the sun burning through and silhouettes walking along the beach. I’ll be posting the photos tonight.
        I guess that counts as a first world indulgence. That said, the first world is all at work. Further confirmation I’m in my own world perhaps! xx Rowena

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        Yes me too a world of my own

        Liked by 1 person

      • roweeee says:

        Not such a bad place, is it?!!

        Liked by 1 person

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  17. Norah says:

    I won’t unfollow. I don’t use my library so much any more either. I prefer to own than borrow. But since this challenge I have thought that perhaps I should browse the recent picture book boxes and stay up to date. I love your flash and Mary’s use for the library – not a book! Yes indeed, people should see the bigger picture. Even if we individuals are not users, libraries need to be readily available for others who can’t afford the luxury of book ownership.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Charli Mills says:

    I had no idea Carnegies were world-wide! My own library fellowship had fallen away, like many, because I can buy my own books. I got involved with my library as a volunteer to build up support for writers in our rural area and it’s like rediscovering Narnia. Libraries are so rich beyond books. If someone is interested in freelancing, one can research magazine; genealogy and one can discover old records; music and one can explore all kinds of albums. Libraries need tutors and volunteers. Perfect place for writers. They are a place of learning and community. Today I even received a “get out of fines free” card because of my volunteer status. Cool! But seriously, you’ve read books of stone? And what a strong message in Mary’s post. I’m not aware of any closing libraries. I think we really need them in rural area.

    And PLEASE…send BOND!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Sadly, Geoff, I’ve fallen out of the habit of using my local library. For years I visited most weeks, and encouraged my children to read by taking them there as part of our Saturday morning routine. Not sure it worked with my son, but I understand my daughter reads a lot still. As their reliance on having a parent around diminished, my visits followed suit, and the acquisition of my Kindle pretty much knocked that last nail in the coffin. Once in a while, I reflect wistfully on those hours spent scanning the spines of books and considering which ones to take home with me. And then I think about how I’ve grown to dislike (sacrilege here, I know) snuggling down in bed and trying to read even a thick paperback, let alone a hardback. After fifty years of reading, I still haven’t found a comfortable way of doing it. But it would be such a shame to see the libraries disappear, so I’m going to have to find another way of supporting them.

    Suggestions on a postcard…

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Annecdotist says:

    We also had a Carnegie library in the small town in which I grew up – it was also a cultural centre where I spent many a Sunday evening at the folk club. Get out there and support yours – they might also agree to hosting your author events.
    I’m with Mary on the paper maps’ superiority over the Internet.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Lisa Reiter says:

    Ah ha.. Carnegie College in Leeds built by same fellow, is now part of Leeds Metropolitan University.. Damned good sports injury physiotherapy available there #IShouldKnow
    Very interesting and a nice flash!

    Liked by 1 person

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  23. Rachel M says:

    It looks like a beautiful library. I love libraries and we visit our local library every week. Ben takes the kids every Saturday for fresh books and, I hate to admit it, DVDs.

    Like

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