Friday Writing Experiment No. 31: Get Thee To A Library


I remember the sweet musty air of the mobile library. It came to the Caledonia every second Saturday morning, and parked itself on Mousehall Farm Road.

I remember Comet in Moominland, Little House in the Big Woods, Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIHM.

I remember the high windows of Hull’s Brynmor Jones Library, the recently opened Humber Bridge in the distance.

I remember how we often found Allen’s Ginsberg’s own books on the shelves of the Allen Ginsberg Library at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa. A Tibetan swingseat on the porch, tall flags fluttering on blue and red and yellow on the green, mountains through a narrow window.

I remember the University of New Mexico’s Zimmerman Library, and the long wooden tables, and the glow of low lamplight. I remember the murals, I remember the fountain at the duck pond, and I remember the fountain in the little courtyard right out of Rappaccini’s Daughter.

I remember Madeline Miller talking about The Song of Achilles at Twickenham Library a couple of days after she won the Orange Prize –  some foresight on the part of local library services. She was totally charming, wholly intelligent, and very entertaining.

I remember the carved panels of the heavy wooden doors of Sydney’s Mitchell Library, telling tales of Aboriginal history.

I remember a tarot reading in the cafe of the British Library.


I could go on, and I shall at my leisure, but now it’s your turn: write an ‘I Remember’ about the libraries you have known.

If you want to take this further: you could place a limit on how long you remember libraries, and then stop and look back over your collection. Choose one of these libraries, and then write about an encounter within that hallowed place, real-life or fictional, or a bit of both.

(With full credit to Joe Brainard’s brilliant and inspirational ‘I Remember’.)

6 thoughts on “Friday Writing Experiment No. 31: Get Thee To A Library

  1. I remember every Saturday morning in my little local library, exploring the shelves while the constant tap, tap, tappety tap from many little feet and the shrill Tap Dance teacher’s voice echoed from the Dance Studio next door

  2. I remember (of course!) that my Dad was a librarian.
    Remember, in Harwich, the loose parquet floor tiles, the pale green painted door, the brass handles and ceilings as high as you’d expect to a four-year-old.
    I remember the maroon mobile library, the steps and the roof-mounted window, choosing books for my mother, ill in bed with pneumonia, and reading them all myself.
    I remember on every sixth Saturday, for a year or so, going to Hertford County Hall with my Dad, being left alone, the whole of the children’s section all to myself.
    I remember, after marriage, thinking that libraries weren’t for the likes of me, now that I was just ordinary.
    I remember, more recently, the stairs in the UOT library, how they swayed like the Millennium Bridge.
    I remember feeling like I had come home.

    • There’s lots of movement and life here … And equivalences with my own experience – like that roof-mounted window! Do you suppose all mobile libraries had them?

  3. I remember there were no libraries in La Paz, but there was a small USIA library in the US Embassy in Kabul and that was my initial taste. I fell in love and read everything they had (which was mostly propaganda about the US to impress Afghans).
    I remember the first time I went into a proper library (as we know it in Europe and the US). It was the British Library.
    I remember thinking that my heart might stop.
    I remember the Dewey Decimal system.

  4. Oh my, I forgot!
    I remember driving the Center County Bookmobile in the 70s. Well, my husband drove and I checked the books in and out and chatted with the (mostly) children who piled in. I found a photo just the other day.

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