Missing my library
How has Covid changed the way you live? Your local community? Many, many ways, probably.
One thing that has changed for me, one that I didn't expect to change quite so drastically, has been access to a library. I have none, and I don't know when/if I will again, which is heartbreaking. Libraries seem a magical, free service to us readers, but money is still required to keep them going. And Covid has cut short that money, left too little to open all the libraries, even as a click and collect service. I check the website regularly but, being as my local library is a tiny village one, no dates are available yet.
But here's the thing, it's because it's a library in a tiny village that it's so important. It's our hub - mother & baby groups, toddler groups, classes in IT, classes in art, support groups, all use the library. And we haven't even mentioned the books yet! I've had to queue for 15 minutes sometimes to get my books out, and I don't mind. The librarian knows us all by name, remembers what the kids like to read, and orders books in for people without being asked. I'm missing my local library. I'm missing more than the books.
The poem below was written about libraries/bookshops, originally published in Pushing Out the Boat issue 15, it's also decorated the window of Orb Bookshop up near Aberdeen. I think if I was to write this poem now I would include much more than the books, now I realise just how important libraries are.
do enter. Yes, these old doors creak
don't they? No matter, no mind will
notice absorbed as they are. Please,
look round. Up and down, rank and rank
of bared spine. Run fingers over bindings,
read the names written, breathe it,
verso, recto, verso, recto.
You hesitate? It's only natural, here
you hang on worlds' edges. It wouldn’t do
to plunge too quick. You taste potential
and it is sweet and heady and endless.
What will you do with this feeling,
where will you go? No, I can't come -
let go my hand, take your first step,
I'll be waiting when you come back, yes
you will come back many, many times.
I just know, trust me. As to how to find
your way, your way will soon find you.
It’s ok, don’t be afraid. Step, run, jump,
worlds are waiting for you, go
and pick your first one.
Maxine Rose Munro
Originally published in Pushing Out the Boat issue 15