After a hard week at work, with my head completely all over the place due to the overwhelming amount of things to remember and learn, all I wanted to do on Saturday was sit down and read some books. It is winter in England. I love winter, but this means that it is dark and cold, raining and icy; it is stay indoor weather. I had plans to put in my favourite pyjamas, make beautiful teas and the odd hot chocolate, get my hot water bottle and curl up on the couch. I wanted to do nothing but reading…
Instead, I woke up, made a nice cup of tea and a coffee for Wayne and started to read and he started to complain. Wayne is currently completing his final year of his BA in Games Design. At the moment he is trying to complete a module that will lead to his final major project. This is a game level of his own design, made entirely by himself. In the summer, after much discussion and deliberation, we decided he should make a survival horror that was set within a library. It was yesterday morning that we realised… Wayne didn’t spend any of his own actual time in libraries, so he didn’t know what a good reference was.
So Yesterday we got up, pulled on as many warm layers as possible, and I decided to show Wayne around some of the libraries in Liverpool. It wouldn’t exactly be reading all day, but at least I would be surrounded by books.
We started at the Sydney Jones Library at Liverpool University. This is a great academic library which is absolutely filled to the brim with books to discover. Just being among those shelves reminded me of the years I enjoyed at university, and since, huddled away within the library, pouring over piles of books to write my next paper.
The Sydney Jones Library is a 24-hour library which is something I adore. The idea that you can find yourself in need of a sanctuary and some study in the middle of the night, and it will be there, lit up and inviting, is heavenly to me. I know some people associate academic libraries with cramming for tests, but I associate it with finding a huge part of myself and discovering a new way to explore my passion. Every time I step back into that library, I am reminded that this is a part of me, a part of who I am as a reader and a researcher.
Although I did not spend my time there finding books to read, it was really fun to show Wayne where I came in summer when I disappeared with my lunch for the day.
We then made another trek to a second library, and arguably, one of the most pretty libraries we could have gone to.
Liverpool Central Library has been renovated in recent years to create a modern, sleek and inviting space for the public to enjoy everything about books and study. It is everything you could want a library to be.
The main part of the library is extremely modern, with beautifully lit shelves that have emissive ends, and great spaces for both independent and communal work. Row after row of books are illuminated for your perusal and the library is constantly buzzing with life. The upper floors are a mezzanine style to allow you to see the first floor below, which makes it feel like a chic department store instead of a library.
I think the design makes it look cool and enticing… like a place to visit and hang out, had it been like this when I was 16, my friends and I probably would have spent a lot of time there on a Saturday. I say that in the happy knowledge that on a Saturday the library was filled with 16ish-year-olds, hanging out in the cafe, doing their homework, and exploring shelves of books. Oh, and the fact that it has a gaming pod to allow you to borrow games and play if you can’t at home helps too.
While I love the modern parts of Central Library they are definitely not the best parts. The Picton Reading room is.
This is an incredible space that is filled with books. You enter into a circular room and are literally surrounded on all sides by a fantastic mix of both classic and new tomes. There are books with bindings that are falling apart from age and use, next to books published in the last two years. The elegant lights and incredible curved staircases are whimsical and elaborate touches that add incredible beauty to an already astounding room. It is like a library from a dream and when I go in there I am reminded of all my library goals.
The room is ornate and feels reverential. Every sound in their echoes and so you can literally hear the sound of a pin drop reverberate around the room. Which means the room is silent, the only sound the odd click of keys or the turning of a page. While Wayne explored I sat down and pulled out my book for the day, I had to just sit here and soak up the atmosphere for my own reading. I noticed someone came in, they where damp, wearing a high vis jacket, and kept checking the time – so they were clearly on break – he grabbed a giant book of illustrated Blake poems, sat down with a sigh and, with the biggest grin on his face, opened the book and began to slowly go through it for 20 minutes. 20 minutes of blissful escape and peace. That was beautiful.
When Wayne returned from further exploring he was inspired by other rooms that he had seen with an older style of architecture and stunning display books. It was wonderful to see him as enthused about libraries as I was.
And that is what I love about libraries. They are a place for everyone and anyone to go and be surrounded by the best words, ideas, pictures, stories and history possible. They should welcome, inspire and bring peace. They should provide shelter, community and comfort. They are incredible.
In the end, I had an amazingly bookish Saturday…