I love libraries. Perhaps that should be a statement of the obvious when made by any writer or avid reader. But of course, in dark economic times, public expenditure on libraries is apt to come under the microscope, with potentially alarming consequences. I was greatly impressed with the new central library at Newcastle, at which I was delighted to appear last summer, though I share the anxiety of those who fear that there will be few if any new major libraries like it built in the next ten years.
But let’s celebrate libraries, private as well as public. I’ve mentioned some of my favourites before. They include Manchester's Portico Library and John Rylands Library, the library at Liverpool’s Athenaeum Club, of which I’m fortunate enough to be a member (strictly, ‘proprietor’) and the wonderful Lit and Phil, again in lucky old Newcastle, at which I appeared in 2008.
The Bodleian is, of course, in a class of its own, although I was never too keen, as a student, on the newish law library in the St Cross Building. To my shame, I have yet to visit the revamped British Library in London. Speaking of the capital, I know some people who rave about the London Library, but again I’ve never visited it.
I’m looking forward to the launch of The Serpent Pool in St Deiniol’s Library in Hawarden next month. When I received the invitation to appear there, not long after I featured this remarkable residential library on this blog, I was truly delighted. And I’ll be taking the opportunity of an overnight stay. To sleep in a library! Can’t be bad.