Opinion: Visit library and get lost in a book
PUBLISHED: 16:27 03 December 2019 | UPDATED: 16:27 03 December 2019
In the 60s, my sister and I looked forward to with eager anticipation to Saturday afternoons!
Chores over, we made our way up East Ham High Street, knowing that we'd meet friends and stop for a chat, watch a demonstration of yet another gadget in the Market, spend a good half hour over a milk shake in Woolies and then head to the Library with time for a good browse.
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Libraries in those days were very quiet places; any untoward giggles or talking louder than a whisper would be met with a vigorous 'Shushhhh!' and a stern look from the library staff but I loved silently exploring the vast array of books and always took four books home for the week's delectation. And my delight knew no bounds when I discovered the music section of the adult library; the exercises I played on the piano were dull compared to the full score of West Side Story that I could take home and (sort of) play!
But when I go into our libraries these days, the scene is very different; here, a small group of sixth form students chat over a project they're working on, there, some carers talk as their toddlers play together. Libraries always were places of learning from books but now there are groups learning Yoga and crafts and meeting new friends too. Schools have regular visits to our libraries and encourage children, who, like most of us, automatically resort to a search engine to find out facts, to use books instead to stretch their minds in a different way.
Yes, we do have computers in our libraries as well; I'm delighted to see them all in use and I know that I can read electronically almost anything ever written, but what can beat getting totally lost in the pages of an actual book? Stories, fact or fiction, can transport me to other times and places, where I race to read what's coming next while at the same time dreading the end of the book and that way, I learn more about life and love, tragedy and triumph.
Thank God for libraries!