Thursday, 10 February 2011

The Library as Escape Route

“So often absolutely ordinary in appearance, a good library should offer escape routes down the most extraordinary avenues, pathways into different worlds from the one you’ve left outside.”

That reflection is (I like to think) like my own, about my public library being a Tardis (see “The Place I Call My Local”, below). It comes from Nicky Wire of the Manic Street Preachers, whose line “Libraries gave us power” is on the opening plaque of Cardiff Central Library. He’s written more at the Guardian.
Actually, I’ve just discovered I’m not the first to use the Tardis metaphor for libraries. Another such observation comes from Hephzibah Anderson writing at the Observer, way back in 2008. “A library is a Tardis on your high street”, she writes. “It’s a portal to the secrets of the universe, to jaw-dropping facts and mind-expanding fictions.” Her piece is about the shhhhhh! element of libraries — or the silence, at least, something she wants restored. I’m not sure I share her view. There’s usually at least one quiet corner at the libraries I loiter in, and that’s sufficient.

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