Sunday, April 29, 2012

pleasantly mad places

“Libraries, whether my own or shared with a greater reading public, have always seemed to me pleasantly mad places, and for as long as I can remember I've been seduced by their labyrinthine logic, which suggests that reason (if not art) rules over a cacophonous arrangement of books.”
~Alberto Manguel, The Library at Night

I'm often asked questions about the library where I work.  I've been wanting to shoot some photos before the branch was open for a while now, and today it happened that I'd be there early enough, before my shift started and before opening, to do so. It's a cool thing to do because you get to see the place with new eyes, really.  And it got me thinking about how public libraries, libraries in general, have always made me feel.  Which is: happy, yes.  But also there's that feeling you get when you're seeking, looking, hoping to find.  You know?  Which is also, for me, a state resembling happiness.

The other thing that I remember loving as a kid about libraries, is the colour. Maybe it's just me, but I find all the colour of the spines of books to be uplifting.

What about you? What do you love about hanging out in libraries?

The rest of the post is all about the photos.  Hope you enjoy them.  ~ Shawna


  1. Happiness, yes, but also the excitement of the possibilities, the serendipity, the unknown becoming known. You made it beautiful. Thank you! Tiina.

  2. I love libraries, but I am not sure if they are that good for me (just kidding) because they make me greedy. It's actually worse than shopping... I go with a few books in mind and always leave with twice the amount I was planning to check out!

  3. Thanks Sandra and Tiina! Yes, the possibility of finding things you didn't even know you needed.

  4. I have such nice memories of spending time in libraries my whole life; at school, in the community during the summer reading programs, teaching myself how to do things (cook, garden, paint, build things, dream...). Then later, taking my kids there to discover a whole new library experience. Then the music sections, books on tape, language lessons, and some times a sanctuary to spend an hour between drop-offs and pick-ups; a quiet place to write a letter. Thanks for the book tour. I love the color of the spines too, and the possibilities. What is better than have a book find you?

  5. Oh Shawna, your photos are so insightful and delightful. As I did mention already over at Flickr, I have always loved libraries. The very first library I ever stepped foot into was the Strathcona Library on 104 St. in Edmonton. I remember the creaky floorboards, the smell of the books (and the wood), and of all the possibilities. I think that's one of the draws I've always had to libraries -- those possibilities within the books. Whether it was stories in novels, or even encyclopedic knowledge (I must have been a nerd because I LOVED encyclopedias when I was a kid), and I always loved learning about animals. As the years went by, my appreciation for libraries only matured. I found answers there, and more questions to ask, and explanations, and mysteries, and poetry, and beautiful words. When I'm in a different community, I love to check out the library. A library says so much. Not just the words in teh books, but who is there, who works there, and the feeling the library gives. I remember when I was the WiR a few years ago. I spent countless hours in one libraries that term and in one library in particular. In that 'home' library, I was shocked yet pleased to see that some troubled youth took physical refuge in the library. There is a deeper story to that but it shows just how meaningful libraries are to many people and for different reasons. Obviously, I adore the existence of libraries. Always will.

  6. I think for a lot of people the library is a place where we were 'centered' - you know? Thanks for sharing the memories Lucy!

  7. Diane - thanks so much for this! I did my practicum for library school at the Strathcona Library. Good memories. Libraries are good refuges for all sorts of people. I love that about them too.


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