Memories of Exeter Library

One of my favourite libraries is Exeter Library.

It is not the best library I have been in. The best would be a toss-up between the British Library, the Bodleian Library (both of which I frequented in my quest for an elusive Ph.D in archaeology), the New York Public Library or even that Japanese library I spent part of my childhood in (I forget what it was called). But Exeter Library is the one which I love.

I first joined the library many years ago when I was seven. Twenty-seven years ago! I have read a shocking amount of books because of them.

My earliest memory was when it was called Exeter Central Library and of owning a library card that was practically bulletproof. If you dropped it, it made a sound like a pterodactyl: KKLAK!!! Loved that card so much that when the stamped a hole through the plastic (so I could borrow tapes or videos), it felt like sacrilege.

Another memory is the glass walls. From outside I could see characters, from the land of fiction, painted upon the glass. I recall Spot the Dog and one of the apes from the Anthony Browne books. Visual clickbait for 1980s kids.

Inside I would turn right and walk into the children’s section where I would immediately be drawn towards the rocking horse. A grey dappled horse that begged me to get on and ride into the sunset. God only knows how long they had that horse but I remember being away for years and then coming back … and they still had it! Although I was, by that time, too big to ride it. Stupid tiny rocking horse…

They got rid of the rocking horse years ago. This is why it fails to enter my top 3 of libraries. If you think that is an arbitrary decision, then you must be unaware that rocking horses improve whatever place they are in. This is a fact and cannot be disputed.

Then there was the incentive to read books: the coveted Book Track badge. I went in every day and took out eight books which I would read and bring back the next day. For two and a half weeks, I earned the lesser badges until the day that I got that badge. Then I faffed about reading Asterix books at a leisurely pace. Ah, good times.

I remember reading my way through the adult fiction. Reading at least one story from every author. Took me the best part of two years but only because I tended to read their entire stock of authors if I liked their prose. It is thanks to them, or rather my insatiable appetite for reading, that I discovered writers whom I would never ordinarily have read otherwise.

Recently I recall finding Bram Stoker’s Dracula in the D section. I thought that was either subversive genius or the librarians aren’t being as rigorously trained as they once were. I think the former is more likely.

It seemed that they had a bigger range of books in those halcyon days than they do now. But there is still always someone new to discover (authors I mean, not random members of the public, ahem).

All things change and Exeter Library is one of them. Mostly for the better.


About greebohobbes

All-round irritant, expert swordsman (loves lopping off the heads of ghouls), professional charlatan and outrageous wearer of black cocktail dresses...
This entry was posted in BekHobbes, exeter, exeterlibrary, memories, opinion, reallife. Bookmark the permalink.

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