Leith Library: 80 years of bookish joy

As far as I can remember, I always loved libraries, from the time when I had two blue pre-school library tickets and my mum would take me to the children’s library downstairs at George IV Bridge.

Leith Library Open Day

In an age where there is more and more (and more) information available, we need people with the skills to sift the nuggets from the noise. Librarians will probably need to rebrand themselves. They will be managers of information, searchers for fact. I’ve put some time into coming up with more fun names and my favourite so far is Information Ninja.

In my teenage years, lurking in Newington Library on Saturday mornings, I used to have silent fantasies of the building taking off for Mars with just me and all the books. All the books. Food? Water? Oxygen? All the books.

You must live feverishly in a library. Colleges are not going to do any good unless you are raised and live in a library everyday of your life. -Ray Bradbury

I visit libraries less often now (given that I used to be in my local library every weekend if not more often) but I still love them, just for this:

Libraries—especially public libraries—have got to be one of humanity’s better inventions.

There’s something incredible about being surrounded by all those books. Big books, small books, old books, new books. Books with beautiful covers. Books on everyday matters and wildly esoteric subjects. More books than you could possibly read in your lifetime. In Praise of Libraries

Today is Friday the 13th, which makes it a fortunate day for visiting your local library to find a book on the origin of friggatriskaidekaphobia or triskaidekaphobia. My favourite non-fiction library was the the 1890 Carnegie Library at George IV Bridge. (For the history of Carnegie libraries in the US, check out the Straight Dope. Or go to the library.)

There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.” – Andrew Carnegie

Yes, you can find stuff out on the Internet. But mostly what you can find on the Internet is knowledge you knew existed and are just confirming the details. What you can find in a library, with the help of a librarian, is… anything, really. If it exists in book form, it will probably be somewhere in a library, and if it’s in a library you can borrow it. From anywhere, to anywhere. For the love of reading.

Friday the 20th is Leith Library‘s 80th birthday, but today is their Open Day from 11am to 3pm:
Leith Library Front Door

In July 2012 we’re celebrating 80 years in Leith and drawing together the wide range of services which are now provided in the one location, celebrating the strength of community and shared history.

Including the Registrar’s Office, a City Centre/Leith Neighbourhood Office for Council enquiries, a refurbished library, the Thomas Morton Hall and a Wedding Suite, there have been many changes to the site in the past. Looking to the future, the Leith Theatre Trust finalising plans for a 5 year licence over the theatre building (previously the New Town Hall) in order to develop ideas and ultimately bring the building back to life.

The Story Lab is happening every Monday through the summer (3pm-3.30pm) in Leith Library: on Monday 16th July, it’s birthday themed stories for the under 5s. (On Tuesday, the Birthday Bookbug bites: 10.30am – 11.15am.)

  • “Cutting libraries during a recession is like cutting hospitals during a plague.” Eleanor Crumblehulme, library assistant, University of British Columbia
  • “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” —Jorge Luis Borges
  • “For an impoverished child whose family could not afford to buy books, the library was the open door to wonder and achievement, and I can never be sufficiently grateful that I had the wit to charge through that door and make the most of it.” -Isaac Asimov
  • “Hi, I’m on the side of the outcast and the oppressed, come to me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will show you some nifty database resources!” – Hapax

Leith Public Library

The Big Birthday celebrations are next Friday, 20th July, From 1pm, “Be transported back to Leith Library as it was in the 1930s. With music, birthday card making for kids, a photo exhibition of Leith Library through the ages and a display of library artefacts” but today: open day. Go to the library.

From the Scottish Poetry Library:

A library transcends its physical space; it is an idea, an atmosphere. Wherever there are books, there is, de facto, a library. They’re everywhere, each one an echo of Borges’ never-ending Library of Babel, which is ‘composed of an indefinite and perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries.’ Limitless libraries reappear through popular culture: think of Terry Pratchett’s ‘L-Space’, the Cemetery of Forgotten Books in Zafron’s Shadow of the Wind, or the library at the heart of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, which possesses every book ever written or merely dreamt of. With the internet, there really is the possibility of an infinite library online, but at the Scottish Poetry Library we share Walter Benjamin’s delight in books as physical objects: ‘To a book collector, the true freedom of all books is somewhere on the shelves.’ Nothing beats the romance of brushing one’s fingertips over a row of books, imagining all the other people who’ve read them, the houses they’ve entered, the lives they’ve been part of.

Update – Leith Library is now on Twitter! @LeithLibrary


Filed under Books, of Edinburgh, Other stuff on the Internet I like, Photographs

3 responses to “Leith Library: 80 years of bookish joy

  1. My first ever pingback! Wow.
    I didn’t come up with the term ‘Information Ninja’, but I think it’s brilliant. I first came across is on http://www.freepint.com. If you ARE and Information Ninja and not reading Freepint – it’s a wonderful resource for information professionals.

  2. This is brilliant! So many great quotes too..

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