Fond memories of early library days

RE THE possible closure of various libraries, may I send you a contribution:

In the early 50s, myself and my two brothers, after every meal at the table, would say, can we get down Mam we’ve finished? (sounds daft today). All we saw was her head nodding behind the book she was lost in, her fingers on her right hand on a tea cup, I’ll just finish this page and my second cup, was her reply, then I’ll start (working in the house).

My father was in the RAF MP and was away a lot so I slept in Mam’s bed. Most nights this annoying four to five year old would pipe up, can we have the big light out Mam? Yes, love I’ll just finish this chapter.

Hence our weekly visits to the library, going down from Sandybed on shopping day.

On entering Vernon Road the first distraction was the beautiful smell of the grinding and roasting of coffee at Rowntrees, peering down into the hole at the side of the shop.

Next, my now late brother Bobby and I would show our skills by walking on the wall at the front of Christ Church. Then we entered the library front, two raised beds in stone wall with a gap in between. This led you to the passage at the side of the main entrance. The bicycle shed on the right and at the end the double glass doors into the children’s library, where the big boys and girls went without their mums.

On entering the library up the steps there was the big staircase, twisting round at the top, wondering where it went. Left into main entrance, on the left. The reading room it seemed to me to be always full of old men, all facing the wall with paper propped up (broad sheet) and a table in the middle of the room also full of papers and people seated.

I loved the entrance hall, my most lasting memory is the beautiful smell of the polished floor. I can still smell it now and the fact that your sandals or shoes squeaked when you walked.

Now in through the double glass doors to the library, Bobby and I sat on the long wooden bench that was against the glass wall so you could look into the reference room, we watched all those people with open books on the tables with pencils and paper writing things down.

My favourite thing was to follow Mam across to where she handed her books in returned. The lady would take the top book off the pile, swivel round to face her then let her fingers do the walking up and down this thin wooden box, pick out a cardboard envelope, give it to mum until all the books were returned.

Next, the turnstile into the library, I always tried to beat it by going back out but never did, it always locked. Robert and I went right on entering, there was a low shelf for children with books on, we chose one and sat at one of the round wooden tables and looked at the pictures in the books we had chosen while mum disappeared into the free standing shelves.

Mam is 102 in April, still reads after two successful cataract operations and now uses the mobile library and the books her family get for her. This letter is to say thank you to our library and the assistants for many years of pleasure you gave to my mum, before television and after, and the lovely memories to me. I am aware of the new technology and its uses but hope it does not trample all over and destroy something like a book.

Judy Jones

Weaponness Valley Close