Welcome To The Library

Welcome …
To the Citadel of Community,
The Bastion of Social Inclusivity,
The Great Leveller of Opportunity,
Welcome to The Library.

Where guardians, dressed like unicorns,
Skilled in the intricacies of universal credit systems,
Flight ticket printing,
Refuse collection permit applications,
Hover by the counter, listening, smiling
Ready for helping anyone who asks.
(Ask why they’re dressed like unicorns today,
They’ll answer simply ‘It’s National Unicorn Day’.)

Balancing miracles on shoestrings
Dealing in the ‘currency of humanity’
These guardians, friendly, forward-face of an unseen machine,
Singing, organising, validating information,
Answering queries on family history,
Bestsellers, mystery,
Opening times at the local gym,
Past papers to prepare for a prelim,
How to put a hearing aid battery in,
Sorting, shelving,

We call them Librarians
But today, most people working in a library
Do not get a librarian’s pay,
(There is no money for librarian’s pay)
Yet these sharers of stories soldier on.

Cicero said ‘a room without books
Is like a body without a soul’.
This space is soul-full, laden with books,
The essence of kindness;
And yet, the shelves are all some see,
Issues the measure of success.
Look further, see the rest
Look past the books.

Welcome to The Library
Where angels in blue t-shirts
Offer biscuits, fresh arms for baby,
A reason to get dressed today,
The key to unlocking literacy.
‘Saving the world one library card at a time’
With stories and songs and rhythm and rhyme.

Welcome to The Library
Where an elderly man shuffles in
‘Morning, got the paper hen?’
First words he’s spoken today.
She’s laid it aside for him
(He’s always in at quarter to ten)
Shows him a new book that just came in,
Not on the shelf yet but she’s willing to bet
He’d choose it – Ralph Compton
She knows he’s read almost every one
But not this one, a surprise,
Stretched the western budget to get it,
Asks if he’ll join the new film club
Westerns on Wednesdays.
He shakes his head, turns away
Half turns back, mutters ‘aye, maybe.’

Welcome to The Library
Where giggling, black-clad Comic Club teens
Discover what belonging means.
Draw out angst, learn on borrowed screens
Skills for online comic creation,
Evil safely contained in gutters and animation,
Defeated by heroes of their own making.
And younger, with lego and playdoh
Building bridges between schools,
Redefining what’s cool,
Practicing social interaction
Without the distraction
Of who owns what. That is not
Important here where everything is free,
Belongs as much to you as it does to me.
Here, where there is no need for the sorting hat,
This is one House all sorts are welcome at.
Here, where the stories find you,
Find you fitting together the pieces of a puzzling world.

And younger still, with puzzles and toys,
A riot of discovery, fun and noise.
Stories brought to life right here on the floor
This is what the library is for.
Where the characters you discover are yours to colour
Not gifted from a filmmaker or animator or game-designer,
Where choice is made without effect,
With no cost involved, parents let
The child find their own way.
Sixteen books about sharks read in one day
And one day, buoyed by stories, reading empathy,
Discovering the joy of discovery
Who knows who this child will be.

Welcome to The Library
Where a teacher, back to the Romances,
Arms spread wide
Is ushering charges inside, tightly calling
‘Keep moving children, no looking
These are Adult Books’.
Gangly, almost-teens filing past
Trying to catch a glimpse
Of something worth a look
Seeing only pink covers and eyes and spines
While Grannies giggle into cardigans,
Whispering, ‘we are Dangerous Women.’
But we all remember it –
Getting an adult ticket,
Unrestricted freedom to dream,
Explore, find what we are here for,
And she is right to warn them
(tho not about Romance, it is mostly just sweet)
But she should warn them
About the ideas, the thoughts, the people they will meet
Between these pages,
Unbound by ages or space
The whole of human thought
(Validated, protected, in a way it is not online)
Held safe in this one place.
A thousand revolutions just waiting to begin
Waiting for the right reader to stumble in,
Waiting for the leader who reads between the lines.

Welcome to The Library
Where bags are packed,
Bound for story-lover homes
Where the joy of learning, of discovery,
Lasts longer than the ability
To walk further than the front door, and
Inside the front cover is tucked a letter
From the Library Club pre-teens
Sharing their love of reading.
Books bridging generations, connecting.

Welcome to the Library,
Apologies if you had to swerve at the front door,
Avoid the bags of compost on the floor –
They are for the Gardening Club
Which meets right after Art Club
Which runs at the same time as JobSkills Club
But after Bead N Blether
Which is after the Creative Writing group get together
Agus Buidheann Luchd-ionnsachaidh Gaidhlig cuideachd.

Welcome to Borges Paradise
Welcome to the Library …

The Abode of Ancestry
The Bastion of Books
The Cradle of Creativity
The Defender of Dignity
The Endorser of Empathy
The Fortress of Fun
The Guardian of Growth
The Home from Home
The Instigator of Imagination
The Justifier of Joy
The Keep of Kindness
The Lighthouse of Learning
The Meeting Hall of Music
The Nurturer of Noise
The Overseer of Opportunity
The Palace of the People
The Quiddity of Questioning
The Recommender of Reading
The Store of Stories
The Tower of Truth
The Upholder of Universality
The Vault of Vocabulary
The Wholehearted Wisher of Welcomes
The Xyst of Xenophiles
The Yurt of Youth
The Ziggurat of Zeal
All sorted alphabetically,
Welcome, to The Library.


by Katherine MacFarlane

Save Our Libraries Glasgow

Save The Couper Library

Save Whiteinch Library


Comments (4)

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  1. Isobel Hunter says:

    Would be wonderful. If only.
    Would question the UC bit though – doubt anyone knows all about UC and certainly not the DWP Helpline staff so I think the average librarian would struggle to add it to everything else no matter how knowledgeable and helpful.

  2. DaveL says:

    Loved that! Thank you.

  3. Diana says:

    Brilliant. Would love to see you perform it!

  4. babs nicgriogair says:

    Sgoinneil! Chòrd am pìos bàrdachd seo rium gu mòr !
    Libraries rock!

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