Monday, February 22, 2010

Library Quest

I want to join more libraries. As much as I love my local library, it's quite small, and so are all the other public libraries I've been to in London.
I grew up in a medium-sized German town, and for some reason we happened to have a big library. It had a cloak-room with lockers, and beyond that a number of big, bright spaces - to me, it felt like a huge space station made out of big old houses connected by marble bridges and spiral staircases floating in a glass dome. There was a whole room for history, a section of framed prints you could borrow for your house, and what seemed like a whole building just for children's books. They had the complete works of Winsor McCay, and, most importantly, a science section. They just had everything I wanted to know. Plus some friendly librarians who could find whatever I couldn't, and happily ordered new books as needed. I spent some hours of every day after school there, drinking the horrible broth the soup-and-coffee machine dispensed and reading.
Surely there must be a place like that in London?
The reference libraries in the big old museums and other cultural institutes are great, but they always ask readers to request books beforehand from their online catalogue. No browsing. So you can only find what you KNOW is there. Which is fine, but not great.
Anyway, I'm on a quest... I shall try out London libraries this year and see what I find.

3 comments:

Knife and Spoon said...

I've joined a lot of libraries since moving back to London, mainly in order to search their Stores for forgotten treasures.

But I'm still really attached to my original local, Dulwich. It doesn't have the oldschool dark wood and dark carpets I remember, and I think the stock level has been slightly narrowed, but it's quite large and decently browseable, especially the children's section.

Newington Library (where I used to be Saturday Librarian) is also large-ish. Marylebone has a nice atmosphere, as does the one in Mornington Crescent.

You've reminded me that I was going to join Carnegie Library, just because it's so beautiful from the outside. It would be a bit of a task to get to on my way home, but so long as I got stuff back on time, I might be alright.

Viviane Schwarz said...

Dulwich library, yes I remember that one, I only went there once to get some audio books, I really should check out the rest of it, it did seem nice...

Viviane Schwarz said...

And Mornington Crescent! Now that seems like a good area for a large library. Thanks!