Saturday, 10 October 2015

Mobile Libraries? Over on ABBA Anne Rooney

was talking about taking the delightful small human she calls the Micro-Bint to the mobile library service. (ABBA is the Awfully Big Blog Adventure - one of my favourite bookish blogs.)
I read - and remembered things. We have mobile library services here too. Yes, the floor rocks when people enter them. Being in there actually makes me feel a little peculiar. I am grateful that my local library is firmly rooted to the foundations.
But I remembered other things. I recently wrote something about my childhood. Included in it were memories of other libraries in other times. 
There were no libraries and there was was no mobile library service in the rural areas we lived in. There was however a "country lending service". I looked it up just before writing this and realise that it was newer than I realised. My brother and I would have been among the earliest users.
The Children's Country Lending Service was something very special indeed. It provided a service to schools and to individuals.
Small country schools could get a box of thirty books each term. My father did this for the school.
Individual children could get four books a month. They would be posted out or sent by rail (with a return  sticker so that the service was free). 
The librarians in the city knew me. I was as frequent a visitor to the library as I could persuade my parents to take me. My brother was the same. Those wonderful women - there were two of them from memory -  bent the rules for me and each fortnight I would pedal down to the railway siding in the tiny place we were living in. I would leave one parcel to be returned and pick up the next four books. There was a rather large goanna which lived near the siding but we were prepared to avoid it. (It was probably more frightened of us than we were of it.) We would look carefully into the shelter which held the parcels - just in case! 
The parcel delivery was all done on an honour system and, to the best of my memory, no books ever went astray. We always had our books back in time to get the next lot! 
It wasn't like choosing your own books but I was rarely able to do that anyway. (My father would return my books when he went to a lecture at the university and pick up more for me. The librarians chose them.) 
But oh, the excitement of those parcels. The titles were never repeated. The variety was wonderful. I devoured everything they sent. So did my brother. I read his. He read mine. We exchanged them with the only other child in the town who belonged to the service.
During holidays in the city we would go into the library and talk to the librarians about the books they had sent. It was the high point of the holiday as far as we were concerned.
There is a state wide library service now. With one card you can borrow a book from any library in the state - and I often do borrow from another library. But I also wonder how children who live in remote communities manage without the same care and consideration those two women gave us. We were incredibly fortunate.


jeanfromcornwall said...

With the system as it was in your childhood, you must have had the chance to try such a variety. I can remember being reluctant to try new things - I was a fearful child and did not want to provoke nightmares, or worse, those uncontrollable fears when trying to go to sleep. If I had lived in your situation I might well have been more adventurous!

catdownunder said...

I read anything that came my way Jean - including things I should probably not been allowed to access!