Just recently King’s Lynn Library celebrated its 110th anniversary. I didn’t hang out the bunting or hold a street party, but I must confess to a certain warmth at the news.
You see, when I was a kiddie, Lynn Library used to be one of my favourite haunts.
It was the first place I had an official membership of, complete with my own library card. At seven years of age, that was one important step towards adulthood.
I remember wandering along the shelves of books in the children’s section, always prepared to try something new, but always returning to classic favourites.
Malcolm Saville was one particular old friend. His Lone Pine series about a group of friends and their adventures in the Shropshire hills instigated a love of that county that still survives today.
There was an added frisson when I started reading the James Herriot ‘Vet’ series, as they were housed in the adult section of the library. Every so often my eyes would be drawn away from the innocent everyday life of a veterinary surgeon in Yorkshire, to the books of Jackie Collins or Shirley Conran.
Half my attention would be on the page, half would be watching for my mum to come around the corner and catch me reading the salacious stories. And so my sex education began!
But these days, the library is a threatened species.
The great and the good of the literary and theatrical world regularly come together to pledge their support for one library or another that is facing closure.
And this is why the birthday celebrations for our own library are particularly heartening.
Since moving back, I haven’t yet returned to Lynn Library, but it is a trip I will make shortly.
I don’t expect things to be unchanged. The old stamp will be replaced by a high tech barcode reader; the presence of e-books and e-magazines, computers and wifi will be reminder of how far society has advanced.
But the atmosphere will remain.
A library is a unique place.
It is a place where time can stop momentarily, you can step out of your everyday existence and lose yourself in someone else’s imagination, you can still discover new things and take a child-like enjoyment in the wonder of learning.
I never did finish Lace. I might celebrating the renewal of my membership by discovering just what did happen to Judy, Maxine, Kate and Pagan.