Archive | May 2009

The next read: joining the local library

Idle library, 20 Albion Road, Idle, Bradford, BD10 9TY

Regardless of whether I had a job or not, was rich or skint, had nothing left on my shelves to read or still had a swaying pile to get through, I always intended to join the local library.

After years of using the too-convenient Amazon website to get hold of any new reads, I had built up a reluctance to continue down that path. Go to wish list, choose book(s), click-click-click, ordered, package appears a few days later. Easy, although usually with postage and packaging on top I was paying as much as one of the local Waterstones. Not that this was the overwhelming argument in mind. Above all I missed the human aspect of looking for a book: browsing the shelves, getting lost finding the right section, discovering the book is in another section altogether, stumbling upon something I’d never have considered before, even casting aside a prospective buy because of its – yes – cover. All of these are part of the joy of choosing the next read. I needed change, I needed to reconnect with walking into somewhere, reconnect with books.

Through convenience of working close by my reliance was transferred to Headingley’s Oxfam. Simply, there was a multitude of cheap books, in mostly good nick, it was money to an undeniable good cause, and also a neat line of recycling as well. Winner all round. Since late last year I was too, sadly, becoming weary of this method as increasingly I struggled to root out anything decent, let alone anything on my ever-increasing hit list of reads. Finding books this way had become a joyless chore, praying that I would dig up a nugget. Had I been spoilt by the almost immediate range offered to me by the internet method? Possibly.

But then I remembered the years I really fell in love with reading. Those fondest teenage memories were sparked by the library at school and the town library in Louth. School was a dependable source for the, well, regulars, the classics (ah, The Mill on the Floss). The town library though opened another more contemporary world. Watchmen – not only hard to get hold of in deepest Lincolnshire but also expensive for a boarder who funnelled most of his money in the direction of Grimsby Town Football Club – became something that was my responsibility for the three weeks stamped onto the in-cover label. And I read it once in each of those weeks before returning it. I followed that up with The Dark Knight Returns and V for Vendetta, grounding my interest in graphic novels. At the same time I was put off cyberpunk novels for life after dipping into the works of William Gibson (backed up by the candid words of my English teacher Mrs Boyd).

Fantasy wasn’t the only world of discovery. The scientific footballing methods of Charles Hughes, in vogue and high profile at the time through Graham Taylor’s England and his rival in Norway coach Egil Olsen, were picked up in a late night reading session. I was now a student of the modern approach to football that reduced the flair and artistry to something based on percentages! And Delia Smith and Keith Floyd… The former’s stuffy style put me off cooking, but the latter – no less RP, but approaching life in the right manner: full of jaunt, dizz, and bumbling his way through – certainly reignited the chef’s flame in me.

Of course, it all cost nowt to me. (Mainly because I was still young enough that any late returns were punished only with a tut or a slightly stern glance from the librarian, rather than a monetary fine.)

And because of all of this, a month ago I, finally, joined the library in Idle.

Hidden away on the edge of the village’s centre the library is neatly tucked away, hidden even, waiting to be found by those who venture that far along Albion Road from the village centre. Its appearance does it no favours: but for its council colouring, the library could be any other shop. The opening times seem a little random as well, but are suited to the modern working hours with Monday and Thursday’s 7pm closing up.

Once you are aware if its existence, you realise it is also easy to get to from any part of the surrounding area. It’s placing seems just so damned sensible. From the outside it also seems small, crammed even, but venturing in it is surprisingly spacious, the check-out desk area by the front door airy and light. There’s the obligatory what’s on leaflets, but a wonderful little surprise is a table carrying some small books about the local area to buy, mainly its history. Mental note: next time I will need to take some loose change.

The limited space available is well thought out, with the most spacious and colourful section, the children’s, the first area once you walk up the ramp. I’ve been here with the daughter before for a reading time that was well run and very popular with other local parents and children. The selection of books is more than decen, a fine spread, and tantalising enough to lure young ‘uns into using the order service if they want to read more by the same author. It’s certainly inviting, which is certainly one thing libraries outside of schools weren’t when I was growing.

Once I got my library card I quickly made a bee-line for this area. Not because I’m simple-minded, no-no, more I knew I could give the place a real challenge. Frank Cottrell Boyce? Yup, and what’s more it’s Framed. Result! A short walk to the other side of the library for a skim through the bit for grown ups quickly reaped Saturday by Ian McEwan. Two books found in no time with very little thought or searching. Of course, I’ve a massive, MASSIVE list of books I want to read (most of which I can’t remember) so I was bound to find something I wanted and I am sure there are more testing times ahead. But I’ll come to those then.

Now I am content. There seem to be other things on location as well – clearly a computer, some jaunty members of staff – but I’m going to discover those another day. After all, discovery is what libraries are about, either when you are there or when you are reading what you have found.

Now, since I am now an adult, one problem: to remember to stretch my legs and return the books on time…

Opening times
Monday: 2.00pm – 5.00pm; 5.30pm – 7.00pm
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday: Closed
Thursday: 2.00pm – 5pm; 5.30-7pm
Friday: Closed
Saturday: 9.30am – 12.00pm

More information about Idle library on the Bradford council website