I find it interesting the last time I participated in the A-Z Challenge I wrote about libraries and here I am again revelling in the reflections of Saturday afternoons at the Johannesburg (South Africa) library. My father and I were avid readers who enjoyed the library’s hushed environment that evoked curiosity and learning. Sturdy shelves that stoically held so much knowledge and intrigue: Encyclopedia Britannica with the annual updates alongside.
Google can bring you back 100, 000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one.Neil Gaiman
It is hard for me to be as excited about our modern libraries. The stark architectural lines and somewhat sterile, if functional, furnishings are a far cry from the puffy leather wrap-around chairs sequestered in dimly lit nooks around the libraries of my childhood.
And the smell of those libraries. All those books and the really old ones too, right there on the shelves so you could run your hands along the cloth bindings. Today’s libraries seem to pay homage to contemporary content and relegate old tomes to dark basement archives. For shame.
With a list of must-visits we spent the day in Adelaide CBD; each attraction an easy walk from the train station. Given how I feel about libraries, learning that the South Australian State Library has been described as “one of the world’s most beautiful,” it was top of the list.
Walking into the main entrance of the library I was sceptical about its promised beauty. Seriously, all that glass may be modern but it is most definitely not aesthetically relevant considering the beautiful building behind this new frontage. However, we were rewarded once beyond the entrance and found our way to a number of rooms that housed different collections within the State Library.
South Australia differed from other Australian colonies by planning a library for public use even before settlement. Just two weeks after the passing of the South Australia Act by the British Parliament on 14 August 1834, an enthusiastic group of prospective colonists led by Richard Hanson and Robert Gouger formed the South Australian Literary Association on 29 August. Its object was ‘the cultivation and diffusion of useful knowledge throughout the colony’. The members donated a collection of useful books as the basis of the colony’s library, and two years later brought the books out on the Tam O’Shanter in an iron trunk, which also contained the constitution of the colony, arriving on 18 December 1836.Source: History of the State Library
I could not substantiate the claim that this had indeed been listed as “one of the world’s most beautiful libraries”. However, it did remind me of childhood times in similar libraries half-way across the world in another time.
This is Day Twelve of the 2019 A-Z Challenge which has taken place annually, in April, for the past decade. The challenge is to post six days a week, Sunday respite from writing or catching up with other participants and their posts. Each of the twenty-six days represents a letter of the alphabet and while each post stands alone they form part of a loose theme reflecting our retirement trip around Australia: Our Big Fat Aussie Road Trip.