Well where else would I go on such a day?
I’ve spent the last couple of Saturdays working in my local library. I love to go there when I want to really concentrate on writing something. I love too the serendipity of finding what I didn’t even know I was looking for when accidentally sat next to an unfamiliar bit of library. These are sacred places.
But today I decided on a change. Decided I’d get the bus down to Liverpool Central Library. The new camera’s not been there yet so is naturally keen on a good look round.
Off the bus at Lewis’s. Its endless renovation continues.
Lime Street looking particularly forlorn on a slate grey day.
Don’t worry, we are walking towards the library. I’m ‘putting it in context!’
Past the old ABC Cinema.
Towards St George’s Hall.
Past St John’s Market which appears to have been invaded by aggressive plastic bags..
Here the blue beast of Liverpool’s ugliest structure broadcasting all day at the beauty of St George.
Imperiously ignored by Albert.
And Victoria. Can you really ride a horse like that without falling off?
While Jack Jones watches the imperialists from a distance.
Walking down towards the Tunnel.
Here it is. Liverpool Central Library.
Said by some to be our third Cathedral.
In we go.
Everyone passes here at the entrance to look up from their lives.
And of course many take that photograph.
Even now it’s been reopened a couple of years I find it impossible not to gaze around me in wonder.
Heaven with books.
Floor upon floor of them.
And see those people on the left?
They’re librarians and you simply can’t run something like this without them. This is not the bookshelves at the back of an Oxfam. Cheerfully stocked by willing volunteers.
This is one of the greatest libraries on Earth.
The place where we keep the stories.
And store our dreams.
Where we make up our futures.
From all that we’ve learned.
A place where all of the books are precious.
A particularly magnificent one it must be said.
But a library like any other library.
Where one discovery will lead you to another.
Higher and higher…
And higher we go.
Not quite at the top yet.
We’ve reached Liverpool’s main Storehouse of our Memories.
The Liverpool Record Office.
Here are the records.
Many stored in miniature.
And the maps of where we lived.
Liverpool the last one, Runcorn this one. The Castle at Castlefields.
Here are also the precious books of our place.
Well done ‘Hidden Liverpool’ – in a place of honour.
Mind you it’s strange some of the buildings that have been honoured here.
The Royal Liverpool received its own architectural monograph?
One more floor to go.
I came up here last year to talk about the future of our libraries.
We know know they’ll all be kept open somehow. But we still await details of how. And in some cases, who by. I’m watching carefully as we all are.
But now, out onto the roof.
Where there is company.
Looking down along Victoria Street.
Towards the river.
Across St John’s Gardens.
And coming closer.
Down at St George’s Hall.
Where we are is a mixture of a new central building and restored and reopened older buildings.
Time to go down now.
I was here.
Wise words always relevant.
Beyond the books there are always more books.
Sarah’s book displayed next to Elton John’s. She’ll be delighted.
On the way down.
People on computers and iPads all around me.
Someone else comes in and takes the photograph we all take.
In this magnificent place.
This place of wonder.
Where our history is written on the wall.
Our future is just through there.
And our present is the campaign of the week.
I could stay here forever.
And most night’s the library’s open late, unlike the local ones now we have the gift of austerity dumped on us. But on Saturday even here closes at five. So I walk through town to get the bus home.
Past the names of the 96.
Nearly always flowers here for one of them.
Through the darkening streets.
Curlers in ready for Saturday night.
The corporate lights beam down on the shoppers.
I go into no shops myself. As ever, I don’t feel the need.
A gaming machine set up on the street. People in comfy chairs playing imaginary football.
The strange half-world of Liverpool One.
Out near the river.
And there’s my bus. Home to write this.
On National Libraries Day, long may they thrive.
Recommended article: Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.
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