This year Valentine’s Day was also declared Library Lovers’ Day, with many libraries holding celebrations of the start of the National Year of Reading.
By the time I reached Hornsby library in the late afternoon, however, I had missed the celebrations. The mayor had left, the ukulele orchestra had tucked their instruments under their arms and left the library to its usual quiet. In fact the library seemed quieter than usual with the knowledge there had been celebrations earlier in the day.
Many of the celebrations at Sydney libraries were held in the daytime, for Library Lovers who don’t have other obligations on Tuesdays. Sadly I was not one of those people. I did, however, receive a report from my spy in Campsie, Simon, via text message:
Campsie library is having a sausage sizzle and free books. Wild scenes here.
There was a giant mouse and a man yelling abuse at the librarians.
I got some books for you about Ice-T and monster squids.
At least I could experience library love vicariously, as I had missed the Hornsby celebrations I had hoped I would catch the end of. Despite my lateness, I popped in to explore the aftermath.
Hornsby library is tucked is at the edge of the shopping area, a big brick block of a building with a no nonsense exterior. Just inside the doorway were a couple of mascots, a boy and girl wearing stylish newspaper outfits.
They guarded the triumphal arch over the electronic gates, objects that are fixtures at every library, but rarely blessed with decorations.
There were no librarians at the front desk, but there was a large plate of picked-over snacks among the information pamphlets. Only tiny teddies and miniature Cheezels were left, jumbled up in an unappetising pile on the white plastic plate.
Near the windows, sitting at desks, were high school students, girls with roses so perfect looking and long stemmed they didn’t seem real. Most of the girls had roses, some encased in long plastic boxes, others with bows around them. A few had gerberas, which must represent a different type of love.
On the other side of the library the librarians were examining the wedding dress display that had been arranged on one of the walls.
Each dress was paired with a photo from the wedding at which it had been worn. The pink dress had originally been white, and had then been dyed pink; there were photos of it being worn at the wedding and then in pink mode at a later celebration.
In the centre of the wedding dress display was a board decorated with photos of people reading. When I looked closer at it I realised it was photos of just one guy reading the same copy of Fishing magazine, in front of many world landmarks, Big Ben, the Statue of Liberty and the like. He must be able to recite that fishing magazine from memory by now.
There were forms for you to enter your own photographs of yourself reading. Did I have any photographs of myself reading, or for something a little more challenging really reading, rather than pretending to read? Some investigation through my files at home led me to a photo I believe is authentic:
It was taken in 2007 and I was reading an issue of McSweeneys that must have been very engrossing.
After examining the board I had a quick look around Hornsby library, but was distracted by missing all the library love and didn’t feel like settling down. I left the girls with their roses, busy flirting rather than studying, farewelled the dragon in the Youth Zone, and set off towards the clanking monster of the Hornsby water clock. I remember the controversy when it was built in 1993, captured in this news segment (with fantastic animation of chicken bones) from back then: