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Why a library is important – A guided tour like no other

Why a library is important – A guided tour like no other

Libraries allow us to widen our knowledge base and soak up greatness.

With instant access at everybody’s fingertips, you could be forgiven for thinking that the humble library is a thing of the past. That long gone are the days of visiting these amazing institutions, replaced all too easily with online purveyors of books, journals, reviews and reports.

At times, even the most staunch library advocate may succumb to the power of Amazon or the likes, though it is important we remember these cherished buildings not just for what they offered, but for what they continue to provide.

Join me as I take you behind the scenes of one of Britain’s oldest surviving independent libraries; a place that is steeped in tradition, having served its public duty since 1768.

Importance that never wanes

Excitement was palpable ahead of a guided tour of the Grade II* Listed Building of Leeds Library in celebration of World Book Day.

As a wordsmith, the realisation I was embarking on a voyage of discovery, to enjoy all that is to admire about the world of books and a spellbinding 140,000 items, was a treat sent from the heavens.

The exhilaration, the escapism, the drama, the love. The sensory overload, the tangibility, the colours, the words.

Just a handful of emotions that were conjured up as step after step was taken through the magical volts of legend, myth, fiction and fact.

Not to mention regaled sightings of a ghost among the bookcases!

The circle of life

Halcyon days of reading Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl and C.S. Lewis are recalled with every movement through such a hallmark of our existence. Those times spent scanning the insert at the front of many a library book to discovery their popularity and the frequency of their enjoyment.

From heritage works and delightfully musty aromas of collections from yesteryear, to the perfectly bound almanacs of more recent times, each and every wall is covered with knowledge. Memories are evoked of what was, with a nod of recognition to the magic contained within each collection. The privilege at being able to touch treasured 15th century publications, peruse a first edition of Ian Fleming’s espionage thriller Casino Royale, to being in the presence of greatness thanks to the collector’s item trilogy of The Whale before it became more commonly known as Moby Dick.

Blessed with an understanding of what still is, and what’s excitingly next, the playground of the book lover is alive and well.

Guided to perfection

A reminder that distinguished collections of the written word are readily available for us all to access leads me to thank the amazing people who made this adventure a reality. To be one of the select few to enjoy a guided tour of Leeds Library after hours was a real pleasure. Gratitude is extended to the Leeds Literature Festival for their invite.

Spending sixty whole minutes within the walls of such a landmark building awash with prestigious works has only served to strengthen my resolve to visit my local library more often. In a fast-paced world that demands our attention, it’s soul cleansing to step back, take time for yourself and discover the amazing collections your library has to offer.

Serving the public centuries ago and still providing a magnificent escape to this day. That is why a library is still important.

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