Monday, 7 March 2011


I went to another excellent night at Nottingham Writers' Club last week where we listened to novelist and psychotherapist Maxine Linnell. Maxine read extracts from her book 'Vintage' which is aimed at the young adult market and she explained where her inspirations came from. She reminded us of the time when, as a young girl, she regularly visited the library and borrowed books from the children's section. But it wasn't until the age of twelve that she was issued with an 'adult' ticket and a whole new world was opened up to her.

Nowadays there isn't such a strict divide. Booksellers are careful to market their young adult stock (can't call it 'teenage') so that it appeals to a wider range. There are also instances where the same book is given two different front covers - one that appeals to children and one for adults.

Maxine brought back memories of my own local library which had a similar arrangement. I don't think children were even allowed in the grown up's section and I remember once being told off for whistling as I entered the lobby. If you wanted any help you had to whisper. Now these institutions are open-plan and a combination of meeting place, temporary classroom and cyber-cafe. Infinitely more accessible, of course, but sometimes I still want to put a finger to my lips when someone rustles a newspaper a little too loudly.


  1. And now you've reminded me of when I went up to an adult ticket in the library - happy days!

  2. Libraries have grown very noisy these days. Rustling newspaper I don't mind, but what annoys me is how our local librarians have got so chatty since being liberated from the counter by the advent of self-service. Lord, do those women gossip!

  3. I quite like the hushed atmosphere of a proper library; soft murmurs, apologetic "excuse me's"*. It shows a proper reverence for books. But definitely no whistling! And Joanne, you need to have a (quiet) word with your librarians. Ours only gossip very quietly

    *For pedants of grammar (I am one myself), I thought long and hard - well, short and hard - about that apostrophe, but decided that "mes" looked ridiculous without it...

  4. Thanks for your comments, everybody.
    Perhaps we should campaign for a Quiet Library Day where, once a year, we ignore the self-service scanners, turn off the vending machines and computers and go back to whispering.

  5. I'd like to join your campaign, Keith, but can we extend it to a quiet library year - and have it every year?

    I know the changes are made to encourage more people to use the libraries and overall they're a good thing, but I preferred libraries when they were quiet. Nowhere seems to be quiet anymore.