Tuesday 12 January 2010

Classic Libraries

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.


harriet said...

I used both those Manchester libraries for research over some years. The Portico is wonderful -- you used to be able to get lunch there, all very cosy and homely. I've never been to the London Library either, but have used the new BL quite a bit -- not as atmospheric as the old one but marginally more efficient!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Sleeping in a library! How cool!

It might be a LITTLE scary, though. Or maybe that's my imagination working overtime. Could be book material, later. :O)

I'm a huge library fan, too.

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Fiona said...

Having been a public librarian I have to say that 'sleeping in a library' is not exactly a rare phenomenon! :)

Anonymous said...

Martin - Libraries are, indeed, very, very special places, aren't they? I've always wanted to visit the Bodleian, but haven't yet had that pleasure.

Reading your post reminded me of the library at a university where I once taught for a few years. It was a remarkable library for a small school. It had a beautiful collection of rare manuscripts and first editions. That was only one of many things that lent that library such a wonderful atmosphere.

Ann Elle Altman said...

I am with you, I feel we should celebrate libraries. I wish I had more around me.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting post. To sleep in a library. Can't imagine, but intriguing. Good luck with your launch. I've only read the first in your series, but plan to catch up with #2 and #3 so I can read #4. Take care.

Dorte H said...

Sleep in a library? That was a childhood dream of mine at a time when I didn´t own a book and had to drag them all home from the library!


Martin Edwards said...

Thanks for all these comments. A love of libraries unites so many readers and writers.
I shall certainly let you know whether the experience of staying overnight at St Deiniol's is spooky, fascinating or memorable - perhaps it will be all three!