Saturday, 1 December 2018

On Libraries…

 From Fishguard Library,

To Llanelli Library,

Or should that be the other way around?

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of reading from ‘Esther Bligh’ in my local library, at Fishguard.

As someone who has worked as a branch-librarian, and in a college library, this was a particular pleasure, along with seeing my book displayed on the shelves.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a house full of books, but many writers will have started their reading lives in libraries, leading them on to writing in the future… and, perhaps, to that proud moment.

The branch-library where I worked was in Talgarth, a few miles down the road from Hay-on-Wye, a job I loved in a place I loved. It was a joy to serve such wonderful people, and help them find the books they might like, or provide them with any information they may need. Sadly, our borrowing figures were never very high, and every week I gave thanks to the family who borrowed up to thirty westerns in one go, as long as we had been able to get new stock in – or even if we had not.

The college facility, or Learning Resources Centre, was a rather different affair, and the students were more challenging than my village neighbours, but it was still great to spend my days working surrounded by books.

Then, last Saturday, I took part in a Book Fair in Llanelli Library – another special venue.
Llanelli Library would have been the first I ever visited – probably with my grandmother, who lived just up the road, and was a keen reader, borrowing a new pile of books every fortnight.

Of course, the building has been modernised since then, with almost a ‘funky’ interior of lime-green and black. But this extension was built onto the original building, which has been kept with original features, and so it was possible to walk up the stairs and feel myself going back in time, treading in the footsteps of my grandmother, my younger self, and many family and friends.

And some of those friends were kind enough to visit my stand, along with the regular Saturday morning library-users.

The library was a great venue for a Book Fair – spacious, comfortable, with tea and biscuits provided, along with a warm welcome from the librarians. So thank you, to all at Llanelli, for organising and arranging, and making us feel at home.

It can be a strange feeling when past and present get mixed together. In this instance, it was a pleasurable experience.

It’s something that happens in ‘Esther Bligh’, but there, of course, it’s a much darker affair.