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Monday, 3 February 2014

At The Library

Note: Prior to the second decade of the 21st Century, information was held in a paper format called books; these were stored in building mainframes known as Libraries.
Its sleepy silence grounds me; traffic noise 
doused in the sweep of a carousel door,
only the brisk clip of shoe leather
on the dull copper burnish of herringbone
parquet; the pattering of typewriter keys;
the rubber stamp's thunk-thunk and the crisp lick
of a turning page, dog-eared, yellowed
by impatient thumbs and tracing fingers;
and the ghosts of a thousand whispered questions,
wary of disturbing calf-bound reverie,
where the magnetic pull of a paper North,
travels pulp mountains and rivered ink,
stirs the golden dust motes, hung in the morning
window, and my imagination to flight.
©Angela T Carr

Angela is a poet & writer based in Dublin, Ireland. Winner of the Cork Literary Review Manuscript Competition in 2013, her debut collection will be published by Bradshaw Books in 2014. More atwww.adreamingskin.com.


  1. Really liked your poem Angela. The line 'stirs the golden dust motes hung in the morning window ' beautifully captures one of the many instances I enjoy when working in the library. Libraries by there very nature are modest and understated. Yet within them they offer so much, self empowerment, social contact without demands, warmth , light and seating. Everybody is equal at entry-no payment or criteria required. I think libraries are actually one of the few state funded institutions left which offer free space to a diverse community in which the sole aim isnt about consumerism. I hope they continue for future generations to enjoy. Thanks again for giving them centre stage.

  2. Oh, Angela, this is beautiful. I'm especially drawn to the pulp mountains and rivered ink. I'll have to share this with my partner, who works at a library and is only just discovering the magic. This captures it beautifully, and resonates somewhere deep beneath the skin - maybe just under the ribcage. Thank you!

  3. A very beautiful poem Angela, full of vivid imagery and stirred-up memories of how libraries used to be. Even without the (possible) rise of 'book-free' libraries, the memory of silent, parquet-floored, book-lovers' shrines becomes ever-more distant. We have a beautiful library in Accrington whose staircase is something quite special but silence is a thing of the past and the clicking is that of computer keys not heels on floor. Not that I mourn change... but your poem is both a beautiful memory and, to some extent, a warning.

  4. Mmm, yes, very close to my heart this. I recently wrote about my own experience of returning to the beloved library from my childhood, which also had parquet. It was the first thing I noticed when I walked in. In its place - a beige carpet. My face must have been a picture. Got worse when I realised that there must only have been a quarter of the amount of stock than there used to be. Shelves were actually shorter, making what had previously been little alcoves to sit and browse all open-plan, and well - horrible.

    I worked my way round that place as a child - now I just feel grief for what it was. And yes Carolyn - silence is a thing of the past in libraries.

    Anyway, I'm still going, and getting as many books out as possible, while it's still there.

    Fantastic poem - thanks.

  5. Thank you for all the lovely comments! I'm delighted at how this has touched on other people's memories and experiences of being at the library. I was thinking of our local library from when I was a child - dating from the 1960's, it had a real mid century vibe, with lots of wood and a sweeping curved staircase which seemed to me as grand as those in the Zeigfeld follies on film!