Given the close proximity of National Libraries Day – which takes place this Saturday, 9th February – I wanted to write a blog post on what libraries mean to me. I spent much of my childhood in Horsham, a small market town in West Sussex located on the River Arun. To me, Horsham was perfect, and I still view the town with somewhat rose-tinted glasses; I see it as a haven of tranquility away from the smog of London where I can go to rest my weary head. My memories as a young girl are of walks in St Leonard’s Forest, cycling along the River Arun and learning to bike ride next to the duck pond round the corner from where I lived with my parents and three sisters.
Perhaps some of the most prominent memories I have of my time spent in Horsham however, are my weekends spent in the library. I clearly remember walking along Guildford Road on a Saturday morning, into the town centre to where the library was nestled – a haven of the unread and undiscovered to my young eyes. From Fantastic Mr Fox to Mallory Towers, to the Babysitter Club books, Sweet Valley Highs, Point Horrors and beyond, much of my time as a child was spent between the four walls of Horsham Library.
During school holidays they would run reading schemes to encourage children to read more; and while I wasn’t in need of any further encouragement, I revelled in the challenge of reading as many books as I could over the six-week summer holidays.
I remember moving from the children’s section to the young adult’s; I remember the glee as I was told that I could borrow seven rather than three books at a time, most of all I remember the love of reading that Horsham Library instilled in me as a young girl.
Horsham has changed a great deal since I lived there as a little girl, but the library has stayed much the same. And every time I pass it with my father, I’m hit with a wave of nostalgia and a longing for the unread books that lie therein.