Tinder Press Celebrates Libraries
August 20, 2015
As the effect of cuts to library funding makes itself felt across the country, we asked our team and authors to say a few words on what libraries meant to them growing up.
I know I’m not the only novelist for whom the local library was like a calm, patient, endlessly nurturing extra parent. I spent hours of every school holiday in mine, mooching, browsing, discovering low literature as well as the highbrow stuff. Google is no substitute and cannot feed the growing imagination in the same way; it would be like substituting a few bags of fast food for a carefully ordered, full larder. Patrick Gale, author of A Place Called Winter
My mother was a librarian and worked in evenings and weekends, and in those days of slightly informal childcare my brother and I were often left to roam the shelves unchaperoned until my father could make it along to collect us. It was there I discovered Alan Garner, Agatha Christie, Charlotte Bronte, Daphne du Maurier, some highly dubious romances I mercifully can’t remember the titles of, but which my mother had the wit not to censor, and above all the habit of escaping into an imagined world. I went to join the subterranean library closest to Carmelite House the other day, to take out books for my daughter who is just learning to read, and the smell took me back immediately – I always have been, and always will be, a library child. Mary-Anne Harrington, Publisher
At the age of six, I moved from London to a tiny village in the Derbyshire Dales. I became one of eleven children in my primary school, and the only pupil in my year. We had a brilliant teacher, and once a fortnight, after doing PE to ‘Musical Movement’ on the radio, were visited by the mobile library. I longed for that van to return more frequently, as books were rationed to four per library member. Noel Streatfeild, E Nesbit, L M Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott and, yes, Enid Blyton were my authors of choice. I was heartbroken when I realised I’d run the course of their oeuvres.
I go to my local library in South West London now, and still get that sense of excitement and nostalgia as I nose around the shelves, and I can see that their book clubs are a lifeline for many people, not least the elderly. My mother, in her late eighties, has little mobility and her hearing is poor. Thankfully, she has reasonable eyesight. Books are her comfort, her pleasure – and her escape. Imogen Taylor, Publishing Director
I grew up in a household with no books. My parents didn’t read, but they nurtured and encouraged my love of books. In the summer holidays my mum, a district nurse, would drop me at the library on her way to work – cheaper and safer than childcare in her experience. Grappenhall Library was a tiny slab of modernism in the heart of a quaint old village, but to me it was like opening the portal to a secret world. The librarians there – who I saw as curators of knowledge, introduced me to a whole range of texts that thirty odd years down the line, continue to inspire and influence my everyday life and writing. Helen Walsh, author of The Lemon Grove
Growing up, the idea of a trip to the library held so much promise. To be able to spend as long as I wanted flicking through the stacks, picking my very own pile of books, labouring over which was to be my next favourite read was a treat to behold like no other. Never was I given a limit on how many books I could choose, neither was I told they were too expensive or maybe another time. The joy a library visit seemed unending. As I grew up and was allowed to apply for my very own library card, and could venture to the library with my best friend – gasp – without parental supervision, the library’s lure was even stronger. Seeing people now, of every age and stage of life, enjoying the sanctuary of a library fills me with hope that this special space will hold its own place in other people’s hearts too. Vicky Palmer, Head of Digital Marketing
I can still recall the swoosh of the automatic doors and the cool hit of air conditioning as you went into Newark Library, my local growing up. I can vividly remember the musty aroma of books mixed with the clean almost clinical smell of their plastic coating not to mention the totally fearsome librarians policing the rows like prison wardens.
The library was nothing short of a haven and somewhere I felt superbly happy and comfortable in. Twenty years later and nothing has changed, I still love them and working in publicity, I am lucky enough to visit so many on tour. If I’m being perfectly honest, with a big brother whose hobbies included a myriad of noisy, distracting pursuits – drumming being the biggest culprit – the quiet and calm of the library walls were a welcome tonic.
I’m at the age where many of my friends are young mothers and all, without exception, take their babies to their local library to meet other mums, teach their little ones to read or just enjoy a moment of calm outside of the house.
I’m sad to say we don’t have a local library where I live in Surrey, hence why our house is bursting full of books – better than drum kits, at least. Elizabeth Masters, Publicity Manager
and a final word from our designer mastermind Yeti Lambregts
‘Library’ is an extremely hot topic where we live. For many years now, people have been rallying against the much publicised selling of a wonderful building in Kensal Rise. Many authors such as Zadie Smith, Jacqueline Wilson, Philip Pullman and Alan Bennett have publicly campaigned to save it being sold off and developed into unaffordable housing.
This is an exceptionally loved and well used library which people adore and are incredibly proud about.
Due to a monumental effort by volunteers in the community, they have remarkably reached a compromise with the developers to retain a good proportion of the building as a library, while the remainder of the building will be converted into apartments.
One of our neighbours, Richard, spent much of his time protesting, rallying and keeping everyone informed of updates – he is a tower of strength, and his passion ensured we all continued moving forward with this incredible achievement.
I am really excited about the reopening of the library for myself but also for my son Freddie who loves books too. It’s so important for him and his friends to have this space for reading, sharing books, enjoying beautiful illustrations and magical stories.
The building work has recently begun, and the developers have commissioned the most attractive hoarding I’ve ever seen by artist Alex Green.
For more information, please see this link: http://www.savekensalriselibrary.org
What did libraries mean to you growing up? Join in the conversation below.