Carnegie Library, Herne Hill. Is not my local library. It’s not even, the next local, local library. My friend visits the library (or should I say used to visit) every week with her daughter (who is two years old). It’s a place that means a lot to them, and they mean a lot to me. That’s why I am supporting the #savelambethlibraries campaign.
I don’t have any children. I don’t know what it’s like to give yourself up to raising another human being. I don’t know how it feels to change your life so dramatically, from one day living and doing everything for yourself to the next day thinking only about the life you’ve bought into the world. I imagine it can feel overwhelming, so overwhelming that you panic a little everyday, you feel uncertain where you once felt assured, your breath gets shorter when it was once languid and steady, your mind gets more tired when it once had the reserves to keep going, your body aches with the life it’s just grown and the energy it is expressing to keep that being alive, you are weighed down by the responsibility and the strain.
To find solace in a place where for a few hours a day or even just a week, none of these things consume who you are – must be a paradise.
Where you are welcomed by kind and reassuring faces. Where you might meet other families who are experiencing the same emotions, or older children who show you what is on the road ahead, or wise elders who smile in that knowing way that gives you hope that maybe you are doing just fine. Where the magic of the written word takes you and your baby out of the challenges of the everyday and gives your imaginations time to soar and revive. Where you can share this joy with others and exchange favourite stories, learn about new worlds, characters and cultures. Or on some days be given the space to just immerse yourself and sit, to just be.
This is a library. And this sounds like something worth fighting for.