Thursday 26 November 2020

Libraries and their evolution


Since being a small child when I would regularly walk the two mile return journey to my local library, I have always valued and enjoyed visiting these institutions even though I and they have changed over the decades.  I still miss those catalogues of index cards housed in wooden drawers and the cardboard tickets with the pocket.  Am I the only one who envied the librarian as she stamped the date on the books?  School libraries, both as a pupil and a teacher, have represented a peaceful haven from the tumult of the surroundings.

During the pandemic, reading and procuring reading material has been top of my list so, while my usual sources such as friends and charity shops have not been readily available, I have had to find others.  A bit like an addict, I always need a stash of reading matter.

Little libraries

Fortunately, we have two Little Libraries literally on my doorstep.  Local residents stock the libraries and borrow from as and when.  So far, I have only scanned the titles and deposited books there as opposed to borrowing, but I feel secure in the knowledge that reading matter is accessible 24/7 should I need it.  The only people who may miss out on this opportunity are the writers but perhaps it allows them allow to reach a wider audience.

I have spotted Little Libraries all over including this one in a tiny, Yorkshire village:

Virtual Libraries

 In my opinion, not as good as holding a book in your hand, virtual libraries have their place.  My Kindle app allows me to carry about with me hundreds of books which are readily accessible while travelling or queuing.  The downside is making sure the devices are charged and the difficulty of recalling the title of my current read when the front cover and writer’s name isn’t always on show.

While the municipal libraries have been closed, the facility to borrow ebooks and audiobooks have been added to their services using the app Borrowbox enabling borrowing and at the click of a button.  This has enabled me to virtually borrow quite a few books from my to-read list and to try out audiobooks using my new earbuds.  I have to admit that I am not a fan audiobooks, particularly when it involves multiple characters, the reader’s voice is not appropriate or you want to re-read bits.

Other Library Services

While the libraries have been closed for pandemic of 2020, they will be sorely missed by those who use the wide range of services they provide; reading rooms, Wifi hotspots and, especially in the case those village libraries taken over by volunteers, venues for talks, table tennis and toddler groups.

I have previously blogged about various other libraries at Third Age: Libraries ( so I won’t repeat myself.

Please do comment on your preferred reading sources or books to recommend. 

“The sea is their grave but this Memorial sculpture is, in many ways, a headstone for the lost trawlermen”

I have always been impressed by the architecture in the centre of the maritime city of Hull, especially the old buildings with their carving...