Day 4: Happy Place

Some things make your heart dance with joy. One of my happiest thing to do is go to the library. And I realized how happy it makes me when I went there today.

It has been a while since I visited the library. Ever since I started work, I have hardly been reading. I’m exhausted by the end of the day, and seem to fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. Then came the holiday season, and life, if anything got busier. I read just a handful of books this last month.

Yesterday, as I checked my books, I realized that I had just one unread book in my bookshelf. I do have loads in the Kindle, but the Kindle doesn’t call out to me as much as real books do. So today at lunch time, I went to the library. As soon as I entered the premises, I could feel my heart sing with happiness. Rows and rows of books, just waiting to be picked up. Rows of books waiting to be browsed through.. books just waiting for you. I guess I sound silly, but libraries do make me happy. How I wish I could have spent hours there. It has been a while since I came to the central library, I tend to run to the library close to home more often these days, so it almost felt like a homecoming.

As long back as I can remember, libraries have always been a happy place for me. I remember waiting for the library period at school. We could only read in the library until we reached Class 3. Class 3 onwards, we could borrow books and take them home. I remember, quite clearly waiting to grow up and become a 3rd grader to be able to take books home. I wouldn’t be exagerating if I said that books and libraries were essential parts of my life as long back as I remembered. I still remember the pure joy of going to the library and choosing the book you got to take back home. For a lot of my classmates, it was just a chore which needed to be done while I would wait for library periods at school, and it helped that we had a fantastic library at school. For me it was just paradise.

And what’s more it still is. The same happiness I once experienced in my school library, I experience today. Nothing can match libraries for me. Book shops don’t have the same appeal that libraries have for me. I don’t know why but libraries are such a happy place for me.

So tell me, what are your happy places? Do libraries do to you, what they do for me? Which places make you feel truly happy?

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That lost personal touch..

This morning, at the library, it dawned on me, how little person to person contact we have these days. I go in, take the books I want to return to the machine, return them, browse through the shelves, select books, and then self check them out.

Libraries have always been in my top of my list of  ‘happy places’. Ever since I remember. I actually remember how the first library I visited looked like. It was the library of my school’s primary section. I remember how I used to wait for the library classes – we had a period reserved for the library. We were not allowed to take home books until we were in Class 3, and I remember waiting impatiently to reach Class 3.

Our high school library was just as good. And our librarian was a darling! She was a wonderful, sweet tempered lady, with whom I used to discuss books. I remember waiting for Scarlett, the sequel to Gone with the Wind. When the book got released, I was in Class 10. Our school term was almost over. We had study holidays to prepare for Pre-ICSE, and we were not allowed to borrow books(time-pass books, that is). But I managed to convince my librarian to let me borrow it 🙂

I have had a wonderful time talking to librarians, discussing books, getting recommendations. I would have never read authors like Elizabeth George, Sophie Kinsella had it not been recommended by the librarians of the libraries I have frequented over the years. One of the librarians I met was a software engineer who quit her job to open her own library. How I wanted to be her at that time 🙂

In London, I used to go to the library almost every day. It used to open late, and I would often finish a book in the time it took me to get to work and back. So on the way back home, I would either drop off my book, or pick up new ones. After daughter was born, and after I took time off from work, we used to visit it even more. I think she must have been just as comfortable in libraries as she was at home. And what made my library visits so memorable was certainly the interaction with the librarians or library assistants.

That was before the age of self checkout machines. In London, our library had just started introducing them, and they refused to work most of the time, so I always ended up at the counter to borrow books. When we moved to Leeds, everything changed. The self checkout system here worked much better. I hardly had any contact with the library staff. They were almost always busy serving older customers who found it difficult to use the machines. And that is when I realized that although I have been frequenting my current library for over 3 years, but I don’t seem to know any of the staff! I know the checkout staff at my local supermarket better than that! And they have a much larger staff!

And that is only thanks to those soulless machines which I interact with these days.. The mere thought of all this, makes me yearn for the days gone by when the librarian would checkout each book, stamp it out, and talk to you about whether they read that book or not. Sometimes exclaiming that they had no idea that this library stocked this book, sometimes  asking me how I managed to read so much, while I tell them how I used to dream of being a librarian as a young child.. It makes me feel a little sad..  a little nostalgic for the days gone by, a little sad for that lost personal touch..