Monday, 8 October 2012

A Library in my Handbag

When I was a child my favourite place was the local branch library.  It was just a five minute walk from my home and, amazingly, it is still there 50 years later when many libraries have since closed. An avid reader, I would go there after school and scour the shelves for anything about horses, ponies, boarding schools, girls’ adventures and the supernatural.

After I had read everything they had on these subjects for my age group, I progressed to the bigger central library, a huge, old building in the town, a 2 mile walk each way.  I proceeded to devour everything there.   By now, I had added horror stories, vampires and ghosts to my list.  I was allowed six books a week on my library ticket.  Only six.

Much later in life, when I went to Sussex University as a mature student, and the library there quickly became my new favourite place .  It was amazing, stunning, overwhelming.  Paradise for someone who is inspired by books, and who loves research.  When I wrote my degree thesis I got so distracted by the sheer volume and choice of texts on offer to me that my research went off on many tangents!  This was pre-internet and nowadays I would compare it to browsing on Google or Amazon.   I usually went home on the train carrying lots of heavy books, my bags weighted down.  I was only limited by the sheer physical constraints of what I could actually carry.

Fast forward 25 years to the kindle.   This neat little beast is portable, light and actually fits into my handbag.   I’m not restricted by weight, or a maximum number of books I can borrow or buy.  It offers me all the delights of my own personal library.  I can read what I want, when I want.  I can explore non-fiction, poetry, novels, stories – everything my heart desires.  If only such a thing had existed when I was studying.  I could have conducted all my research without even leaving the house!  

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