I was born to be a librarian. I was that kind of bookish, nerdy kid at school; anyone who knew me then would easily have predicted my ultimate career path, even if it took me until I was in my 30s to discover it for myself. The signs were there from an early age, even before I got a Saturday job in the local library at the age of 15. I worked there from 1977 to 1980, when I left school with A levels and went to work full time in W.H. Smith (in the book department, of course). But my librarian tendencies were in evidence well before that. As a child I looked forward to the weekly visit to the library and devoured the books I borrowed each week, almost all story books about animals. In fact, I loved the library so much that while the other kids were playing at James Bond or Cowboys & Indians, I was persuading my long-suffering friends to play at libraries. In the 1960s my best friend next door, Briony, and I pooled our book collections to form the “B & S Library”, lending books out to friends with slips of paper inside showing the due dates. We even had a sign in her window advertising our services. I seem to remember that we lost a couple of books to kids we didn’t know very well, who never returned them.
This didn’t put me off repeating the experiment a few years later with my friend Clare Painter from over the road. We formed the P & R Library – using our surnames rather than forenames for its initials this time. I was thrilled to find this exercise book in the family archives: my first library catalogue!
And I have to say, for an 11 year old, it’s not at all bad. The names of all the library’s members are listed on the first page, mostly family members and some friends from our respective schools; names which instantly conjure up faces and memories for me. The books are listed by “branch” (our homes being the 2 branches) then by Category: Animal Stories, Nature, Stories, Annuals etc., Miscellaneous, Cartoons, Young Children’s Books, Art, Poetry. Not surprisingly, the biggest category is for Animal Stories. There is even a section for New Additions. Looking at the titles listed (I am ashamed to say, not in alphabetical order) I can still remember many of those books and how much I enjoyed reading them (click to enlarge the image and read the lists).
“Brumus” listed here was actually a book called “Brumas”, which I remember well. It was about the polar bear cub by that name who was born at London Zoo in 1949 and named after her two keepers, Bruce and Sam.
I have chosen this object for my first post of 2013 because, as I have now been writing this blog for 1 year, I felt it was time to review it. When I started it in January 2012 I had no idea how the blog would pan out; I have picked objects to write about at random, and although sometimes there is a link from one post to the next, I have not written about the subjects in chronological order. This has been niggling at my professional conscience, and does not satisfy my librarian’s obsession with logic and order. What if visitors to my blog are interested in certain periods of history? So I have reviewed my classification of this blog, and added some chronological categories to the list on the right. I hope that this will make the blog easier to navigate in future.
My budding librarian self of 1973 would, I am sure, approve.