Two articles in The Guardian last Friday make interesting reading about libraries. The first article looks at the proposed new public library to be built in Birmingham in the UK. This is promised to be ‘Britain’s biggest ever public library’ and will cost 193 million GB pounds (c A$450m) to build. The article also states that the use of public libraries in the UK has gone up by about 10-15% since the recession began. The new library will do away with some of the traditional aspects of public libraries, according to the article’s author, who states that ‘Voluble group learning will take precedence over hushed reading rooms’. Whether the present Birmingham public library has an ‘hushed reading rooms’ is probably open to question but stereotypes die hard when it comes to libraries of all kinds. The second article is entitled ‘Warm words’ and contains a series of statements by writers on libraries. If you want something to put up in lights in your library, then here’s the place to be. John Banville states that a library can be ‘a haven from the bleak realities of the time, and an opening on to a wider and richer reality’. Alexander McCall-Smith notes that libraries are ‘beacons of light in a difficult world’.
On Sunday, my wife and I drove down to the border town of Melrose which is a very historical town with a famous abbey. We went to walk in the Eildon Hills which look down on Melrose. It’s a steep climb up the sometimes rocky paths but as you ascend, you get great views across Melrose and along the River Tweed. At the top of the hill (there are a few peaks to choose from) you get a 360 degree view across the Scottish borders. The wind was quite strong at the top but we were sheltered on the way down. A good way to spend a Sunday morning if you’re ever in the neighbourhood.