Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wednesday's walk in: St Andrews Library

At present, home is Canada – but home originally, is New Zeland. Yes, that small, far away country known for hobbits, Lord of the Rings, bungy jumping, and lately, natural disasters. Our second largest city, Christchurch, is still coming to terms with the devastating effects of an earthquake last week, as our capital city Wellington sits on tenterhooks, experiencing a few aftershocks of its own.

As beautiful and idyllic as parts of NZ can be, we are still a long, long way from elsewhere in the world. This makes it expensive to travel abroad – but that doesn’t stop us Kiwis from doing so. Unfortunately, it makes buying books a VERY expensive exercise.

Growing up in NZ, our shelves were always laden with books – the price of having two academics as parents perhaps? But I didn’t experience the thrill of buying books in great quantities until I arrived in London. (Three books for £1 is much more affordable than one paperback for $30!) However, my source of books was always the library. I’d walk down to Glenview Library on a Saturday morning to stock up on Jackie Collins, or stop by on late night Thursday to search for a new author to read.

Libraries can be a daunting place – there’s a need for quiet, strangers are lurking in corners absorbed in their own world of books, and if a child exclaims excitedly over completing a library puzzle or finding a new book to take home, they’re hushed by an embarrassed parent.

As a 17-year-old in need of some extra pocket money (my parents and I had an agreement – they would pay my educational costs, I had to pay my lifestyle costs!), I turned to a library for part-time work. Every Friday evening and Saturday morning, I’d be issuing and returning books, repairing old dust jackets, and welcoming new members to St Andrews Library. The regulars would come in to stock up on books for the week ahead, reluctant sons would drop books off for their mothers on their way to a sports game, and caregivers would bring the elderly and disabled in search for new audio books.

My year as a librarian was a wonderful experience, yet sadly, I haven’t really stepped back into such an establishment. University libraries don’t count when you’re searching for reference books to complete an assignment at the last minute! But tomorrow, I’m going to join the library and will report back on what I’ve found.

PS: It's Wednesday so don't forget to check out my WWWs!


  1. What a lovely tribute to NZ and my goodness, as a child, why wouldn't you want to walk into those brightly colored buildings? Your libraries look so fun!

  2. This library looks like Central's liitle sister!
    Sewing and lunch today.. and Barbara and Mary wanting to hear all about your adventures.