Sunday, March 22, 2009


Remember taking a trip to the library in primary school? The librarian would sit at her desk - nose in an encyclopaedia sized book, hair coiffed, manicured nails, eyes in the back of her head when you were getting up to mischief.

When you’d finally picked out a book, after lots of deliberation with friends, you proudly handed over your library card and she’d smile at you warmly, commenting on what a great choice you’d made. She’d then write your name (in pencil) on the first page of the book and also in her big record book, after she had slowly ruled a line under the previous child’s name, all the while taking sips from her dainty tea cup.

I had forgotten how lovely going to the library could be.

Whenever I’m alone in an unfamiliar city, a bookstore usually becomes my favourite companion. I can spend hours lusting after coffee table books, new novels, travel guides and modern classics. But while browsing through a bookstore in Paddington, the hefty price tags deterred me and I left empty handed and unfulfilled.

Taking a trip to Sydney’s library crossed my mind, but you need to hand over more information than you did to enter the country just to borrow a book - like proof of address, which when you’ve been here a couple of days is just plain impossible. Walking home a little miffed, I spotted a hidden brown sign pointing to the community library on my little street in Kirribilli.

I opened the slightly ajar door to find a room no larger than your average living room, filled floor to ceiling with hundreds of books. At the teeny front desk was a little old lady, dressed a glamorous summer dress and straw hat. According to her, I’d found the friendliest library in Sydney – I could borrow any book I wanted after filling out a card with my name and address, which she then filed. That was it. Once I’d made my choice, she took a pencil, wrote my name in the front of the book and in her record book and told me to come back soon and tell her all about it.

Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon set up camp in a library, spending hours
researching any treatments that may save their son
in Lorenzo's Oil

The Harry Potter trio in their beloved library

Katherine Hepburn as a librarian in Desk Set

The Breakfast Club kids, serving school detention in the library

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