Saturday, 18 February 2012

The sound of library books is

one of those odd little memories I have from childhood that other people do not seem to share.
There were some new books on the "new books" shelf in the library this week. (Sometimes we got older books recycled onto the same shelf.) There was nothing there I wanted to read apart from a book of interviews with some authors - which I promptly borrowed.
I left the library thinking about the new books in my childhood. Well, everything was new in one sense.  I had all those books which had already been written to read and, stretching into the future, there would be hundreds more that would be written and I would be able to read.
There was no local free library when I was a child. There was a small "circulating library". You paid an annual fee and borrowed a set number of books during the year. My paternal grandparents belonged to this. My grandfather had little time to read. He did not retire until he was 84. My grandmother had a little more time. She used to shake her head over the lack of books for children in that library. It catered strictly for adults.
My father was still completing a university degree - one subject at a time. It was a common way for determined teachers to get their degree back then. It was not until the late 1960's that a degree was considered to possibly be part of teacher training. Now of course it is essential.
But, it had an advantage for me. My father would go up to the university (there was only one then) in order to go to the weekly lecture and tutorial. He would also go to the Children's Library and borrow books for me and for my brother.
Those books always seemed brand new to me. There were no bright dustcovers then. There were no paperback books. Everything had a hardcover. This was "library binding". The library had its own bindery. We were allowed to look at people at work in there once. They bound the university theses as well. My father had to collect his thesis from that bindery.
Binding the books that way made them slightly stiff to open. There would be a small creaking sound as you opened the book, almost like a sigh of contentment from the book. Here was a reader.


widdershins said...

It's no wonder we writers have a life-long love affair with books!

jeanfromcornwall said...

I too love the little creak that a new book gives as you open it, but I hate the crack as someone opens a book too fiercely.

Then there is the smell of brand new books. Addictive!

catdownunder said...

library books must always be opened gently - and oh yes the aroma is addictive!