While this photograph may seem to be of a streetlight, behind it lurks Greenacre Library. Housed in a long and thin building, the library is surrounded by lawn and there is a large park behind it. It’s adjacent to the Early Childhood Centre, a common coupling of community buildings. Never have I noticed an Early Childhood Centre to be open, in my mental map of the city they are small, secret buildings that inside I imagine to be decorated in 1970s style, with lots of posters on the walls.
Conforming to this belief, the Early Childhood Centre was closed, and there was no chance of peeking in through the windows. The library, however, was open.
I waited for a librarian dragging a large blue wheelie bin to enter the library before I stepped inside, to a conversation between librarians about the bins. Around the librarians desk were festoons of stationary available for purchase, which I have seen at no other library, but is a good idea. I once heard tell of a vending machine in a university library that sold stationery, and other things students might need that weren’t food or drinks. Being a fan of vending machines, I hoped to come across such a machine, imagining it to sell things like pens, earplugs, USB sticks, tissues, hand cream, panadol, paperclips…or just pens, as in the example below.
The interior of Greenacre library was easy to imagine as the interior of a ship, as the building is a slight crescent shape, and the walls are wood panelled. I imagined it floating in an ocean of lawn as I surveyed the shelves. I was drawn to the cookbooks section because of a large CWA cookbook. My interest in the CWA had been piqued by a performance art action that I’d gone to see the day before, by the Brown Council. They baked all 137 cakes from one particular CWA cookbook over 90 hours. The book they used was called ‘Jam Drops and Marble Cake’, and featured classic cakes, but the one I looked at had all courses covered. I decided to open up a page at random and see if I would cook the recipe I found there.
Jelly Crystal Biscuits were not what I expected to discover! The recipe was from a woman whose first name was Berris, which seemed like a very CWA name to me, a mixture of Beryl and Phyllis. I looked at the names of the woman who’d provided the recipes: Joyce, Phyllis, Wilma, Bev, Noela…some women were very prolific, Joyce especially.
It was a peaceful day in the library, a few people looking at books, a white-gloved librarian quietly putting books away in the children’s section, and a few people on the computers. I browsed around the non fiction section and got stuck on the unlikely choice of The Book of Awesome.
As I am known to be rather a pessimist at times, my interest in this book might seem unlikely. But I was genuinely curious about what things in life might be termed “awesome”. It’s not a word I use a lot, although I, like many others, overuse its cousin, “amazing”. What experiences are awesome, according to Neil Pasricha? Well, things like: hanging your hand out the car window, sitting next to someone good looking on a plane, when you manage to squeeze out just enough toothpaste for one last brush, and getting into a bed with clean sheets after shaving your legs. All entries end with the word AWESOME in capital letters, a pattern which is upheld on the blog of 1000 Awesome Things. Some of the things on there are silly, but I did laugh at the Man Couch entry. The Book of Awesome was shelved in among the study guides, perhaps as a message of hope to those needing to consult the York notes on To Kill a Mockingbird.
The main decorating motif in the bookshelves which lined the walls were a series of faces with different expressions, hinting to the variety of emotions reading can inspire. How did I feel about the Book of Awesome? Worried that when I drove home with my arm out the window, it would be ripped off by a passing truck.
Before I left Greenacre Library I peeked into a room on the side, which was a study area. A boy sat at a desk, bending over his notebook so much so that his nose was almost touching the paper. It looked like a nice place to study, though, looking out over the lawn outside, where a number of black, glossy crows were pecking at the grass. I left the peaceful hull of the library and went out into the sunshine.