A Very Ancient Library

I haven’t been to the library for ages. That doesn’t mean I’m not writing. I am and it’s going very well, thanks for asking, despite having two children home for the Easter holiday. 

Don’t bother asking how the parenting is going. I find it impossible to be a focused, prolific writer and a good parent at exactly the same time. Some would say I’m never a good parent (my daughter for example) but the word ‘good’ is subjective , don’t you think?

Anyway – the library. I miss it. But the library won’t give my dog a library card so I’ve been writing at home. The great news is I’ve finally got over my ‘I can’t write at home when there are people around’ hang up and am well over 10,000 words in 10 days so I’m obviously doing something right.

Today I wandered into the Bishopsgate Library for twenty minutes because I was early for my regular appointment. It’s usually pretty quiet.

It’s a fusty sort of place. A bit like the bank in Mary Poppins. The books are mostly behind locked glass cupboards and there are no windows, only a gorgeous stained glass dome that casts a yellowy light over the library.

The radiators are in the middle of the room and during the Winter there is a bum scrum for the seat nearest the heat. It might be a little old fashioned, but there is still something comforting about the old books and the weight of learning that could go on there if only you had the key to unlock the cabinets.

But I got a bit of a shock today. The library was busy. Nearly every seat taken by someone with a laptop or a mountain of fat textbooks. The tables were littered with files and notebooks covered in highlighter pen and sticky post it tabs reminding the owner of important information according to a strict colour code. 

Writing at home with my dog by my side, I had completely forgotten, it is now revision season. Anyone studying has exams coming up and anyone studying rushes to the library to make it look like they are working hard. The people at Bishopsgate probably were. In Peckham library there is a flood of GCSE students sent home on study leave at this time of year and unfortunately they don’t respect the tradition that libraries are supposed to be quiet.

I manage to find myself a seat among the students at Bishopsgate, although I noticed no one asked the librarian for the key to any of the cupboards so I couldn’t help wondering – did anyone learn anything new today?

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