Library Lovin’!

by Anna Campbell

OK, I know I was on yesterday. Everything’s a bit mixed up this week.

As anyone who’s read a couple of Anna Campbells knows, my heroes always have wonderful libraries. Wonderful libraries where they often get to see stars with their particular heroines. There’s another library nookie scene in my October release SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED.

What can I say? I think books are sexy!

And I think my definition of heaven would be to spend eternity in a well-stocked library that got all the new romance releases every month! I’d much rather read all day than play the harp on a cloud. Especially if the library included a nice meeting room or two with a well-stocked bar and lots of booky people to shoot the breeze with.

I would love to own a library – I mean a specific room put aside for books which is full of lovely squashy leather sofas and display tables and a big desk or two. Sadly, the scale of modern houses doesn’t really lend itself to such extravagance. Not to mention the scale of modern bank balances!

In my dreams, all libraries should look like the beautiful one in the top picture which is from Trinity College in Cambridge. Or the one in Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, the home of the Duke of Marlborough, which has been the model for most of the libraries in my books. Mind you, it includes a full scale pipe organ which my dream library could do without (and please, no organ jokes! We’re a clean-living lot here in the lair!).

The libraries I grew up with looked more workaday, like the one in the picture to the right just above. But it doesn’t really matter what a library looks like. It’s the wonderful accumulation of wisdom and information and adventure and emotion and drama and beauty between the covers of the books that really counts. I love the way in a library, you have the whole universe at your fingertips.

So I guess you could say I definitely belong to the I LOVE LIBRARIES club.

This love affair started very early. The first library I met was at Redland Bay primary school where I grew up outside Brisbane, the capital of Queensland. This wasn’t a big library but it definitely produced many treasures. One book I remember with particular fondness was A BOOK OF PRINCESSES, a Puffin anthology with wonderful short stories about, you guessed it, princesses. Hmm, I can’t see that having any influence on my future choice of writing career, can you? Snork. I must have read that at least ten times. A lot of the stories were really sad (there was an Oscar Wilde one I remember with a dwarf who loved a very nasty princess from afar and with a tragic outcome) but they were all beautiful.

The library also seemed to specialize in series of girls with careers. I remember an intrepid girl reporter (Cherry someone?) and Shirley Flight, an air hostess and a nurse whose name escapes me. There were shelves and shelves of Biggles books but they were strictly a masculine preserve. And I remember devouring old hardback editions of the Famous Fives by Enid Blyton which seemed to be as far as the library extended in the direction of my favorite author at the time.

Toward the end of my primary school days, the American Consulate in Brisbane gave us some wonderful American books – this was back in the days when the U.S. used to use cultural diplomacy to win minds and hearts in allied nations. Lots of Mark Twain and Washington Irving. Can’t remember much else. Definitely classics!

A more fertile ground for exploration was the council library in Cleveland about eight miles away. My parents had a farm and worked most days so my grandmother was responsible for babysitting. She was a great reader (she was responsible for my Barbara Cartland obsession in my early teens) and used to take my brother and me to the shire library on a regular basis.

Oh, what bliss!

I remember ranging widely and once I’d finished the children’s section, I moved onto the adults. For some reason, the books I remember best from the Cleveland Library are mainly children’s biographies of famous women. I particularly remember a series which covered people like Florence Nightingale and the Stuart Queens, Mary II and Anne, and, my favorite, the Bronte sisters. I also loved the history section – I think often kids’ books are still great for research because they tell you the basic stuff you need for things like what a medieval castle looked like or what a milkmaid ate in Georgian London. Those books really fed my imagination!

The local library also had a wonderful selection of fairytale collections. Things like Grimm’s Fairytales and Greek Myths and Legends of the British Isles. I remember with particular fondness the Charles Perrault collection which had the original of Beauty and the Beast and the Sleeping Beauty. Again, clearly stories that have had no influence on my future path at all! And I loved the books of stories from opera and ballet. Basically pretty fairytale too!

So are you a library lover? Did you have any good libraries available to you when you were growing up? What were some of your favorites? Do you have any childhood library memories to share? Let’s take a wander down the Dewey Catalogue of Nostalgia!

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Comments

67 thoughts on “Library Lovin’!

  1. 1
    Helen Sibbritt says:

    Is he coming to my place LOL

    Have Fun
    Helen

  2. 2
    Helen Sibbritt says:

    Anna

    Yes my first glimse at a library was Infants school and I loved them my Mum was an avid reader and she pased that love onto me and she would often take us to the local council library and then when I was old enough to go myself I was there every weekend this does bring back lots of good memories there is a special smell and feel in a library. I read all of Enid Blytons Secret Seven and Famous Five.
    I did take over one of the spare bedrooms here at home when the kids started to move out and put in 3 book cases and i put a lot of books in there although not much room for a sofa I had plans for that then alas my sister moved in with us and although I can still just get to the bookshelves the room is filled to the brim with my sisters things LOL, maybe one day i will get my library back hears hoping

    Have Fun
    Helen

    • 2.1

      Helen, isn’t that interesting how our mothers influenced our reading? My mother gave me my first romance and she was an avid reader until her final illness. One of the things she missed those last months was that ability to lose herself in a book – and as you know, reading takes up a lot of time in a really enjoyable way. Really sad but I’ll always be grateful that she turned me in the direction of the bookcase. Yeah, I’d love a library at my place too!

  3. 3
    Kat Sheridan says:

    I’m with you, Anna. Heaven looks like a library. I remember one of the first books I checked out was a biography of Jean Lafitte, the beginning of my lifelong love affair with pirates!

    • 3.1

      Wow, Kat, that’s amazing! It’s funny, I was watching the end of an old movie called Song of Love today with Kate Hepburn and Paul Henreid about Robert Schumann and his wife Clara and their relationship with Brahms. I distinctly remember checking out a bio of Schumann and Clara (mignt have been Clara – one of those famous women books) when I was a kid.

  4. 4
    Jane says:

    Hey Anna,
    I’ve been a library lover since I was a kid. The after school program would take us to the library every week for children’s reading hour and then we got to check out books. We’re lucky because the NY Public Library system has so many branches throughout the city.

    • 4.1

      Jane, I envy you having access to that wonderful library system. Obviously we didn’t have anything that elaborate in the farming community when I grew up. I still think back and am amazed at a lot of the books that were there. I remember loving stories from opera and ballet – so melodramatic but so cool!

  5. 5
    Jennifer Tanner says:

    Hi Anna!

    Libraries were my sanctuary, even when I was in college and had to really hit the books. I had an assigned study carrel on the same floor as the periodicals room. For study breaks, I’d go to there and leaf through old copies of Life magazine. Philanthropist and inustrial titan. My fantasy library would have the old-fashioned library lights, good sunlight, and a huge map table for books.

    Great post! Congrats on the GR, Helen.

    • 5.1

      Thanks, Jen. Actually this was a post waiting in the wings for April (I spent some of Christmas getting a bit ahead) but as I said, things have been topsy turvy in the lair this week so it was nice having something I could slot in.

      Oh, love the idea of you leafing through Life magazine. No wonder you still have an eye for a striking photograph. And yes, I’m definitely with you on the map table. Ahem, my hero and heroine mightn’t just use it for geographical research, though. LOL!

      • 5.1.1
        Jennifer Tanner says:

        Oy. I obviously didn’t completely delete the sentence about Andrew Carnegie, who built libraries in towns throughout the US during the thirties. Library tables are quite stout. :)

        • 5.1.1.1

          Yeah, all that gilt and marble can hold two bodies, no trouble! LOL! Actually for some reason, I seem to have a penchant for people doing things to each other on desks!

  6. 6
    Mary Preston says:

    One of my favourite outings as a child was going to the library on a Saturday morning. We’d go home with a car full of books. I would read the books my brother & sister picked out too. When I was a bit older I’d also read the books my parents took out.

    I still enjoy my trips to the library. It’s like diving for treasure.

    • 6.1

      Mary, sadly, no library near me at the moment. I had a wonderful flat in New Farm in Brisbane that was about a ten minute walk through a park to the library. Honestly, I was there swapping books like there was no tomorrow. And like Jane’s NY library, they had a wonderful interlibrary loan system so I could get pretty much anything I wanted. What bliss. And I tried a lot of things I wouldn’t normally have read just to give it a go. We’re more cautious when we’re buying, I think.

  7. 7

    Lovely piece, Anna! And may I say a heartfelt thank you for fronting up practically three days in a row for the blog. The lair salutes you!

    I’m with you every step of the way on libraries. Love them! Nearly bought a house I didn’t like much in a suburb I didn’t want to live in just because of its library. I think of it wistfully sometimes. Hoping to turn our rumpus into a library of sorts but not quite as grand as the one at Blenheim. That really is spectacular, isn’t it?

    I still remember Geoffrey Trease had a wonderful series about two vagabond Cavaliers during Cromwell’s time and of course Nancy Drew and the Secret Seven. I read everything I could get my hands on, usually using everyone in the family’s library card. I’m getting audio books from the library these days–they have many that you can’t get on audible. And now they have a system where you can order books to be delivered to your local library it’s just magic. I remember we used to alternate between Zillmere and Chermside and for a special treat, there’d be Nundah library! I used to beg to go to Nundah because there was always one or two books missing from a series that I was desperate to read. Now I buy a lot more books than I used to, but I still love the local library!

    • 7.1

      Christina, I know you still use the library and I think that’s great – and I love that you’re bringing the kids up to love books too. You really learn so much with wide reading, don’t you? I remember Geoffrey Trease but I’m not sure I ever read him (there was a Malcolm someone who wrote historicals too – Southall?). I liked Rosemary Sutcliffe although her stories are nearly always incredibly sad. Re-read a few of them a few years ago and that was still my recollection. Beautifully written, exquisite characterisation but you wanted to slice your wrists once you finished them. These days I like romances with a guaranteed HEA!

      • 7.1.1

        I agree, Anna. If there is a romance I want it to end happily!

        GT’s cavalier was a real rogue. Hmm, my preference show early on, just as yours do! But he had an ongoing love interest who was a very smart woman, IIRC. I think they end up together, too. Probably why I liked the series so much. I must look it up. I’d love to read it again.

        Forgot to also mention my high school library. Found many a gem there, too! Including a full set of Georgette Heyers. Sigh.

        • 7.1.1.1

          Christina, because I was a VERY miserable boarder in high school, I used to haunt the school library. Lots of Georgette Heyers and Victoria Holts! No Barbara Cartlands! Those Geoffrey Trease books are starting to sound better by the minute!

  8. 8
    Amy says:

    Anna,
    I have just the place for you, or at least it DID exsist, haven’t been to Asheville, NC lately, so not sure if it is still there. It was a bookstore/wine bar. Great, overstuffed couches and chairs, the smell of leather for the books, and a wine list I needed explained to me! LOL It was HEAVEN! This summer we are heading in that direction again, so I’ll find out for sure if it is still there for your next trip to the US ;)

    I LOVE the library. When we moved to Indiana, I could rife my bike to the library. I love the smell of books (my sister-in-law on the other hand, while she loves to read, refuses to read anything anyone else has touched!). It was a really old library when I went there, but, ah, it was heaven. For one thing, on really hot days, it was one of the few places around with ac. LOL But it is where I fell in love with romance books, also via Barbara Cartland. And they had this HUGE encyclopedia where I could look up all the words I didn’t know the meanings of (came in handy when I read LOVE STORY at age 11), I loved to just flip through that and see what words I could find and what they meant. They also carried every single Nancy Drew book, which I read. But once allowed to go upstairs to the adult section, I never went back to the kids library. Ahhh memories. Thank goodness my mother is also an avid reader, alas, not of romances, but thrillers, which I also will read and enjoy. It’s the one trait none of my own kids picked up though. My daughter did start reading, some, when she was in high school because of her wonderful school librarian though, so lets give them a shout out also.

    Amy

    • 8.1

      Amy, what a lovely memories. Thanks for sharing them with us. And so glad you’re passing on the love of books – and we will right now give a shout-out to school librarians! Huzzah! Love the sound of the wine bar/bookshop. I don’t think I’d ever have to leave!

  9. 9
    kaelee says:

    We didn’t have a library in our small town when I was really young but each grade school teacher had a collection of books which she would lend out to students. Looking back now I know that they probably spent their hard earned money to foster readers.

    A group of volunteers got together and formed a small library when I was about twelve. They got rotating shipments of books in from a large provincial library. I remember not being able to check out adult books until I reached a certain age. Fortunately for me my mother liked the same type of books as I did . She would read them first and i would read them after her.

    • 9.1

      Kaelee, love that your mum was a co-conspirator in your reading. My grandmother was a romance fan – she gave me my first Barbara Cartland which she’d taken out from the Cleveland library. I wouldn’t have been allowed to borrow it off my own bat but I could read the books she took out. Definitely some espionage going on there! How lovely of those teachers to put their money where their mouths were in fostering readers. Such wonderful dedication.

  10. 10
    Anna Sugden says:

    I think our whole house is a library, given we have over 40 bookcases and stacks of books everywhere LOL (see, you need to visit!)

    I love anywhere with books, but old-fashioned libraries, with all that wood are lovely.

    When we went to Althorp, then had a great library there, but even better was the set of library steps they had – I wish I had a picture. Lovely carved steps, but at the top was a book rest and seat! Perfect!

    • 10.1

      Anna, I adore those libraries in the big old houses. And I think, sadly, that’s my ideal of a library – pity about the ranch-style bungalow I live in! Ooh, I think I’m going to move into your house. I’m not coming for a visit, I’m coming forever!

  11. 11
    Deb says:

    Hmmm, as much as I’ve always liked to read, I don’t really remember having a favorite library, even as a child. My sister and I did the children’s program for two summers a long time ago. One of the themes was Circus Fun and we had our cousin Steve come talk to the kids and do some balloon tricks as he was Crackerjack the Cowboy Clown. He loved doing that for children’s groups.

    I like the University library while in college. A good place to study while scoping guys.

    The most beautiful library I have ever seen, though, is the Iowa Capitol building library. Sure, it’s full of political and law books and journals, but it has the most beautiful woodwork; curved, white wrought-iron staircases; and pink marble pillars.

    • 11.1

      Deb, the Iowa library sounds absolutely beautiful. I still think my favorite is Blenheim. It’s got an organ in it! So much for shhhhh in the library. My librarian doll would be tormented to death! ;-) Next time I move, I’m going to try and get near a library. I really miss having one close and these days, there are so many wonderful events at libraries too. I’m actually doing two down on the Gold Coast for the Pride and Prejudice bicentenary which is this year. Looking forward to this – love doing library talks!

  12. 12

    Libraries are the best. I, however… yikes. I cannot return a book on time to save my life. Don’t blame me for any library’s budget shortfalls! I spend less at bookstores… :(

    • 12.1

      Anna, that’s hilarious! I had a friend who recently took advantage of a fee amnesty to return a whole bucket full of books! She said she just couldn’t face paying the fees! ;-)

  13. 13
    Laney4 says:

    My sister (my elder by 15 years) took me to our town library when I was about 3 years old. Back then (in 1962), it was a “coffee shop” sort-of hangout for the “old fellas club”, where they sat around tables in the “conference room area” (out in the middle of the narrow room) and smoked their pipes, cigars, and cigarettes. I remember how smokey it was when we walked to the back! A few years later, they built a new library, with the reference tables at the back, and I don’t remember any smoking by then. I DO remember having a “children’s card” and having to beg, PLUS get my parents’ permission, to get an “adult card” when I was still in public school (less than 13 years of age). I had already read through all the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, etc. books and wanted to move on to more and more books in the adult section!

    My BEST library experience was in Grade 8. We had a “twinning program” wherein the Grade 8 students helped the Kindergarten students put on their winter gear for recess, etc. *I* was “twinned” to the library. OMG. I was in heaven. I would have “today’s” work done the night before at home, so my homeroom teacher would allow me to spend almost all my time in the library instead of the classroom (while the others did what I had already done, homework wise). The one girl sat at the desk and “stamped the books out” for the various classes of children filtering through. *I* put ALL the books in order … constantly…. I “skipped” recess every day (recess is overrated; it’s friggin’ cold with Canadian winters!) so that I could put those books in their correct places. When June came along, it was even better, as that’s when every book HAD to be in order so that inventory could be taken correctly. Bliss!

    I returned to that library “during exams” all during high school, and then the librarian transferred to another school. I worked full-time after college, but once I got married and started a family, I resumed visiting my librarian friend, taking my young ones with me. We did this until both were in school full-time, and then I continued visiting my friend until her retirement. (After that, we went out for lunches together often … until she became housebound … so I picked up lunch and brought to her … until she was bedbound … and then I visited her at “the home” several times a year until she passed away in 2011. Great memories of one great lady!)

    • 13.1

      Laney, what beautiful memories. Thank you for sharing with them. The picture of you doing all your school work ahead of time so you could wallow in the glory of what is the library really made me smile! And how lovely that you stayed friends with that lovely woman. Here in Australia, or at least the bit I’m in, heat is more of a problem than cold although we do get a few cold days in winter. I remember, perhaps not fondly but vividly, the old main Brisbane City library right in the middle of town. Great selection of books – I discovered Eva Ibbotson there. But it used to get really stinky in summer. The homeless guys used to go in there to get away from the heat. Sweaty homeless guys get a bit pongy! Multiple sweaty homeless guys? Need I say more. They’ve got a swish new building now – wonder if that still happens.

  14. 14
    Diane P. Diamond says:

    I’m always at the library here. I love the smell, and feel of it. As soon as I walk in, I inhale the smell of books. :-)

    When I was a kid in London, I used to go the library all by myself, (age 7 onwards), and check out “Fairy Tale books”. I loved these stories, right up until I discovered romance novels when I was a teenager.

    I have to tell you though Anna, that the library I went to, was one of those beautiful converted Georgian or Regency House.

    • 14.1
      Diane P. Diamond says:

      I meant “houses” and not house. :-(

    • 14.2

      Diane, that library sounds lovely. When I lived in London, my local library was a very charming, rather small one in West Hampstead. I was researching a book set in the Italian renaissance so if I wanted anything serious, there was a huge multi-floor library at Swiss Cottage a bus ride away. Loved those English libraries!

  15. 15

    LOL, Anna! Back in the day I knew my dewy decimal system by heart! I was a library aide in middle school for 3 years. Who knew they’d let you spend 3 periods a week hanging out in there? I used it instead of a studyhall. By the time I’d left, I’d read every fiction book in the place and most of the history and biography books, too!

    • 15.1

      Suz, what a great chance to further your education! I read most of the art books and bios too – still remember a lot of what I learned then. Ha ha. Clearly I’ve fallen among library lovers here!

  16. 16

    Anna -
    My dream is to have the sort of library in my house where you need one of those rolling ladders to get to the high shelves.

    My first experience with a library was the bookmobile which would stop in the neighborhood. Not the most extensive collection of books – but very heavily stocked for kids and young readers.

    My next library was the one at school. I remember loving these little blue biographies of famous people with black silhouettes on the covers. Funny the things we remember.

    When we moved to Ohio – about when I was in seventh grade, we moved to a house across the street from a brand spanking new library. Heaven! All those books at my fingertips. I did most of my homework there, but I think I used it more for nonfiction. I can’t recall any romances or paperbacks in their fiction departments – and all I read at the time were gothic romances :-)

    Sign me up for the library lovers club!

    • 16.1

      Donna, I had an inkling that the Banditas and Bandita Buddies might include a few library lovers. We’re all such book nerds! Love the idea of a library across the road. How good would that be? Yes, definitely want a library where I need stairs to get to the top shelves. And I want a mezzanine floor with more books like the one where Sidonie hides in Seven Nights. As I said, none of this goes with my single level brick house but I DON’T CARE!!!!

  17. 17
    catslady says:

    Going to the library as a child was some of my happiest moments. Mostly it was in the summer. My sister and I would be dropped off while my mom did some errands. I just wish we had been in walking distance. It was a grand old library and is more than 100 years old now. Huge ceilings and big wooden tables. I think I can still remember the wonderful smell lol.

    Years later after having my own 2 girls the community we lived in didn’t have a library but we got the Carnegie Bookmobile. We would get the maximum amount of books (30) and we were treated wonderfully by those who were in charge. We finally did get a library but I’m afraid I’ve never visited it since I have my own library lol. I just love being surrounded by my books.

    • 17.1

      Catslady, there’s something magical about that smell of books, isn’t there? I think that’s one of the reasons I’ve been reluctant to change over to an e-reader, convenient as I’m sure they are. Love the idea of your old library. Carnegie clearly is someone who library lovers should thank every day. He built a lot of libraries in his native Scotland too.

  18. 18
    EC Spurlock says:

    We had a beautiful old library in my hometown, a big red sandstone castle built by the founders of the town (with their portraits in bronze in the front hall and a tile mosaic of Pegasus and Bellerophon on the floor). My mom was a great reader (even though she was dyslexic) and whenever I was sick she would go to the library and bring me home a stack of books to read (although her taste and mine did not always mesh; once she brought home a bunch of Dr Seuss books because the librarian recommended them and I HATED them Still do.) Whenever my older sister needed to do a report for school Mom would take me too and let me check out anything from the children’s section that looked interesting. Later when said sister was having a temper tantrum I would run to the library and hide out in one of the window alcoves in the upper stacks – usually in the medieval section, which fed my fondness for medieval minutiae. In college I had a work-study scholarship and worked at the library; I used to love shelving duty because I got to rummage around in the stacks and always turned up something cool and unusual (like the complete 1001Arabian Nights, or the 17th century cookbook whose recipes I still use sometimes.)

    Unfortunately our library system here is abysmal. It’s a county-wide system and the books travel from library to library around the county. You can’t just walk in and grab a book, you have to (1) know exactly what you’re looking for (2) look it up on the computer to see if they have it (preferably from your home computer, because all the computers in the library are usually tied up by kids trolling the web and they took out the old card catalogs) (3) find out which library it is in at the moment (4)ask that library to send it to your library (5) wait for the email from your library that says it’s here. It’s a great system in theory I suppose (it won “Library of the Year” in 2000) but it does not work at all in practice.

    • 18.1

      EC, that old library sounds absolutely magical! What a way to awaken a child’s imagination. Your story about the medieval books made me remember these beautiful children’s books about castles and knights and the Crusades with the most gorgeous illustrations. They awoke my imagination too. I started out writing medievals, and I think those books are partly to blame! Wonderful that you still use the books you discovered back then. And what a pity about your current library system. Our state library has very little on the shelves and you have to request the books your want to come up from the stacks. As you say, you need to know what you’re looking for in that case. That serendipitous discovery just doesn’t happen. Sigh. I understand storage problems but it’s definitely a downer from just wandering around the shelves looking for inspiration.

  19. 19
    Fedora says:

    Libraries are the best, Anna. I have fond memories of most of the ones we had access to as a kid. And I love getting to know each new one we run across now :)

    • 19.1

      Fedora, every time I go to a new library, it’s like Christmas to me. As you see, so much to discover! There’s a library up here on the Sunshine Coast that’s right on the beach (Coolum). You can see the sea from the big main window. I did a library talk there last year and was just entranced with the setting.

  20. 20
    Pat Cochran says:

    One of my favorite childhood photographs
    shows our gang, with our stacks of books,
    sitting on the steps of the Carnegie Branch
    Library in N. Houston. Mother should have
    been in the photo, but she was doing
    the “picture-taking.” She is the one who started us on our lifelong adventures with
    the printed word.

    Pat C.

    • 20.1

      Pat, another Carnegie library? He sure got around. And another book-reading mamma? Even better! Sounds like our mums all steered us in the right direction. That photo sounds like it brings back such lovely memories.

  21. 21

    When I was growing up, Saturday afternoons were always library day. We would do our chores in the morning – I vividly recall sitting on old rags, scooting around and around a freshly-waxed floor to help buff it – then head to the library for a week’s worth of books. We would stop for a chocolate bar or ice cream on the way home, then settle on a sofa and spend the rest of the day blissfully reading. It was the best part of the weekend.

    There is a house on my way to church that has a gorgeous turret library, visible from the road. I’m considering parking my car on the street and just sitting there until they let me come live there.

    • 21.1

      Wow, Kris, a turret library? I WANT!!!!! My good friend Kandy Shepherd built herself a little eyrie on top of her beautiful Victorian terrace house in Sydney. There were bookcases and a desk at a beautiful sash window for her writing. And she looked right out onto a flowering jacaranda. Man, I envied her that room! Love your memories of Saturday mornings! Brought back my memories of going all the way to Cleveland after school!

  22. 22
    Carol Cork says:

    Anna, I love the libraries in stately homes. Although they’re so often cordoned off, I can imagine the treasures that must be there such as priceless first editions.

    You mentioned Enid Blyton’s Famous Five Books and I was carried back to my childhood. I loved Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy the dog. At Christmas I always received one of the books, the original hardbacks with the red cover and those wonderful illustrations.

    As a teenager I was an avid Barbara Cartland reader as well.

    • 22.1

      Carol, a lot of people are snide about Barbara Cartland but you know for a pre-teen girl wanting to read romance, she was just the thing. And as I said, I learned an awful lot of history reading her books. Yes, I’d love the run of those wonderful libraries – they should make special concessions for writers to be able to poke their noses in all the nooks and crannies and away with the guide ropes!

  23. 23
    Beth Andrews says:

    Anna, I adore libraries! I wish I could visit every one I see *g*

    A few year’s back, my town built a new library which is lovely, but very modern feeling and totally different from our original library which is now a restaurant. I remember going there as a child and picking out stacks of books, then later as teenager to gather research materials for schoolwork.

    I can still spend hours at the library which is why none of my family will go with me :-)

    • 23.1

      Beth, I’ll go to the library with you. Sounds like we could have a great time together! It’s actually been nice doing a lot of library talks since I’ve been published – I’ve got to know a lot of lovely people who work in libraries (hey, they’re book people, of course they’re nice!) and seen a whole stack of different library environments.

  24. 24
    Pissenlit says:

    Yay! The site’s back! I was going into withdrawal!

    Yes! Libraries are awesome! As a kid, I loved my grade school library. My mother bought me Enid Blyton’s The Adventurous Four and after I read it, I mined my grade school library for more of her books. I ploughed through all of the their Secret Seven books before moving on to the Famous Five series. You know, aside from the books(naturally!), I really loved the card catalogue. I really miss walking my fingers through those cards. Oh and the rustic-looking sturdy wood drawers of the catalogue with the nice old hardware. *happy sigh*

    My current public library branch isn’t much to look at. It’s kind of utilitarian and lacks comfiness but I can go online and get any book in the city’s library system sent to my branch for pick-up so I’m golden!

    • 24.1

      Pissenlit, I remember finding those old-fashioned card catalogues strangely compelling too. It was kind of like the mysteries of the ages were hidden in there – which is true, if you think about it. There’s a really swish modern library that cost a couple of million dollars to build at Caboolture. You’d hardly know books were involved which I think is a bit sad. Lots of computer stuff and activity areas but hardly any shelving. Guess I’m just old-fashioned!

      Sorry about the hiccups with the site. Hopefully all will be fine from now on!

  25. 25
    Mozette says:

    So are you a library lover?

    Oh, yes, I love libraries… but mine at home is the best by far! I can find anything in amongst it whereas nobody else can. :D

    Did you have any good libraries available to you when you were growing up?

    I had the Springwood Library just a 5 minute walk up the road from me. How great is that? Every Saturday morning, I would walk up there to it and spend three of the most glorious hours of my week in the place… then, when they moved it, I walked the extra 10 minutes to get there… :D Now, though, I can’t be bothered as they keep on moving it further and further away from my folks’ house. The best one now is at Logan Central where they’ve made the entrance from pillars of books! It’s fantastic! However, seeing I have my own library, my library card keeps on expiring on me. :P

    What were some of your favorites? Do you have any childhood library memories to share? Let’s take a wander down the Dewey Catalogue of Nostalgia!

    Well, I remember the time when Chad (the librarian who saw me read the whole of the Publication and Writers’ section in the non-fiction section) asked if I’m going to get published soon… and the best one of all. When I was 5 years old and he approached me in the childrens’ section, sat down near me and offered me my very first library card; so I could take home my selection of books if I wanted! :D What fun!

    The best thing is that my library card kept getting worn out – they were made of cardboard then – and was the most replaced thing in my family… now it’s laminated, Chad’s retired and married – and he’s got a huge collection of books – and life moves on for libraries in my area… I don’t go to them all that often anymore. I find that too many books shown to me bore me a little… isn’t that strange?

    • 25.1

      Mozette, wasn’t that little library card a magical thing? I so remember how I loved it – I’ve got a feeling, it used to list what I borrowed too or perhaps that’s just me wishing it did! Love your story about walking to the library. Actually I understand what you mean about seeing too much. I get this thing where I can’t see individual things because of the crowd of items surrounding me. I’m much better off in a small store or in a smaller section of a large store.

  26. 26
    Caren Crane says:

    Anna, when I was little, the library was simply a magic place. All those books and that wonderful, bookish smell. The smell of books is like no other! The most magical thing of all was that they had central air conditioning. Hallelujah!

    Nashville, TN is not the hottest place around (or it wasn’t back then), but it is incredibly humid. OF COURSE the libraries were air conditioned as soon as the county could afford it. Books don’t do well in high humidity! We all benefited from that, since most of our homes did not have central air con back then. Also, in the summer many times we were fully expected to play outside all day long and only come inside if we needed to use the bathroom or were called for a meal. Especially if Mama was cleaning house. :D

    The library was the perfect place to go. My siblings and I all loved books, it was free and it had unlimited COOL AIR. Magic, I tell you!

    I wanted to be a librarian for the longest time. I think I would have been a really good one, too. I have no idea why I ever abandoned that idea! I would love to spend my days surrounded by books…

    • 26.1
      Caren Crane says:

      Oh, and my magic library was the Inglewood Public Library in Davidson County Tennessee. Best branch ever – small but mighty! :)

    • 26.2

      You know, Posh, I always thought I”d be a darned good librarian too – and I love winkling out odd bits of information so I’d be great at the research angle. When I tentatively suggested this at a young age to my father, he reacted with absolute derision and I think it stuck to me, sadly. And these days, librarians do all sorts of amazing things because it really is the age of information. Love your story about escaping the summer heat by going to the library – we’re in the middle of a heatwave here. Wish I had a library in my back garden!

  27. 27
    Joan Kayse says:

    Sorry to be late…

    I had a bookmobile when I was growing up! Run and staffed by our Free Public Library, it would come every Wednesday, park down in “the circle” and I would run right down!

    Sigh…loved that thing

    • 27.1

      JT, I’ve never been inside a book mobile although there’s one that does the rounds here that maybe I should check out – thanks for the reminder. Sounds like fun – like hand delivered books!

  28. 28

    Anna, finally the site loads for me again!

    Great post. I love libraries. When I was growing up, I often rode my bike, with the basket full of books, to or from the town library. I practically lived there in the summer. We didn’t have all of the Famous Five, but I loved Five Run Away Together. There was a big shelf of YA biographies, including what must’ve been a highly imaginative one of Virginia Dare.

    I read Boys Life magazine there because it had cool stories and an SF comic strip in the back and my mom had vetoed a subscription for me, on grounds I was not a boy.

    My dad went to the library at least once a week, and I usually rode along with him. Mrs. Wally, the librarian, must’ve realized she had a live one in me, because she always had a recommendation ready when I walked in.

    I read Janet Lambert’s YA romances about two Army families, the Parrishes and the Jordans. I also loved Lenora Mattingly Weber’s Beany Malone series. Newbery winners like Island of the Blue Dolphins and A Wrinkle in Time also resided there.

    One of my biggest thrills the summer I was at Oxford was walking into the Radcliffe Camera, part of the Bodleian Library. I got to stroll past all the tourists with their cameras and up the steps to the reading room. I liked to sit there and think of centuries of other students strolling its circular galleries and looking for the books they needed.

    • 28.1

      Wow, Nancy, sitting in the Bodleian! That’s majorly impressive. Actually my heroine in Rake’s Midnight Kiss is a scholar who lives outside Oxford and makes use of the research facilities. I love the British Library near St. Pancras Station – amazing permanent display too of things like original Jane Austen manuscripts. Be still, my beating heart. Love your memories of the library as you grew up – I am ashamed to say I had to look Virginia Dare up. I had no idea who she was!

  29. 29

    Thanks, everyone, who swung by today to talk about library memories. I’ve LOVED reliving your early reading experiences. Sounds like we’ve all got a lot in common. Libraries forever! See you round the lair – and apologies for anyone who got caught up in what’s turned out to be a few continuing glitches in the lair. Hopefully we’ll be back to full operating capacity SOON!!!!