Thursday, April 05, 2012

Sepia Saturday 120 : I Used To Own A Little Library


I used to own a little library. It was a small affair by the standards of the day, no more than a dozen books in total. The books came in rich thick cardboard bindings made to look like leather, and the titles were printed in in gold coloured ink. There was a small encyclopedia, a medical handbook, a guidebook called "Romantic Britain" and a splendid patriotic volume entitled "Britain's Wonderful Fighting Forces" by  Captain Ellison Hawkes R.A. which was published in the early months of 1940. Practically all of the books had been published by the Odhams Press which specialised in books and magazines for the working class. 

My mother and father had acquired the books during the 1940s and for much of my youth they were exhibited like trophies in the display cabinet in the front room along with the coronation mug and the unopened miniature bottle of Advocaat. And I must have had a youthful desire to be a librarian because by the age of ten, I had acquired a date stamp and I had stuck little labels in the front of each of the books to record their loans.

I still have two or three of the books, but none of them seem to have retained their labels. It is quite possible that my brother has the rest of the collection (he was never very good about returning his library books) and no doubt he will let me know before the weekend is out. But the ones I still have are historical gems telling of days when Britain thought it ruled the waves and that the Maginot Line would keep the Huns at bay.

As I write this post fifty or sixty years later I do so from my room which is coated with bookshelves. You will find no labels stuck inside the front covers and my date stamp ran out of ink decades ago. But I like to think that I still own a little library, a little oasis where I can read my books and gently fall asleep.


Due to an oversight by the Group Administrator, Sepia Saturday 120 had two themes - LIBRARY and SLEEP. You can find the other posts - whichever theme they may have chosen - by following the links on the Sepia Saturday Blog.

29 comments:

  1. When I read the title I thought we were in for a poem.

    I used to own a little library,
    It was a small affair by the standards of the day,
    No more than a dozen books in total,
    Dah dah dah dah dahday.

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  2. I've seen some of those books and they fantastically detailed and well illustrated for their time. We have one in our library here by Odham's Press, titled: Aeronautical Engineering, a practical guide for everyone connected with the aircraft industry, and inscribed 1943 by the giver. Ours is green.

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  3. Hello Alan:
    Although we have no recollection of these particular books, it is such fun to come across similar items produced for a market totally subsumed by Empire and which now, all these years on have a rarity value.

    Could you levy fines on your brother for overdue books perhaps? Compound interest?

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  4. I've always felt that if I loan a book, I might as well be giving it away. :)

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  5. I remember some of those Odhams books in the school library in the late 1940s. My office looks like a library and I guess my Kindle is becoming a digital one. The magic of books will never die.

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  6. I can just picture you with your date stamp, checking out these books to your brother and maybe some other patrons of your mini library. It's too bad that your original library has been reduced to only 2 or 3 volumes. But it sounds like you've made it up with your current library.
    Nancy

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  7. Books are among those few things that one can never have too many of. And if I've enjoyed one, I can't think of getting rid of it, on the chance that I will read it again. And there are many that have been read 4-5 times!

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  8. I always dream with have a little Library and read all (lol)
    Have a Happy Easter Alan!

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  9. Talking about returning books...the cheek of it! Somewhere on YOUR book shelf you have MY copy of Philip Larkin's "All What Jazz".

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    1. Okay boys, cool it down!!!

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  10. When I saw your title I wondered if libraries had been privatized at one time. Rather beautiful books. Now don't get in a fight over late returns. I wonder what the fine will be?

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  11. Excellent, I enjoyed reading about Oldhams Press, how they aimed for working people who wanted to build libraries. There's also a lot of charm in small lending libraries, I can understand the appeal of having one set up.

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  12. You have reminded me of something my friends and I used to do in the summer. We each created mini-libraries of our own and we'd check out books from each other. I had totally forgotten that~

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  13. My parents had a set of classics in fancy but cheap bindings. I don't think anyone ever read any of them.

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  14. See we do have something in common! I too (with a very best friend) had a library as well. Of course that was when we weren't running our own little school and that was crossed with being an animal doctor too! Oh the precious wonders we had growing up ...where you didn't need a lot of education or money to run a business, just our own imagination and hard work! Happy Easter Alan.

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  15. Not long ago my wife and I visited some grand stately house in England, and I wondered at all the thousands of books in m'lord's library. Most were clearly unopened, never read, and no doubt published for the 1% class. Such a waste I thought. Your little library was eminently more useful.

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  16. I'm beginning to think running a library as a child is some sort of rite of passage. I was another one, though I think I checked out most of the books to myself.

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  17. Ah, I have my own little library also. I am a voracious reader. I worked for a very brief time in a library at one of the bases we lived on. I loved checking books in and out, but sadly it was a short lived career. I think this is why I chose reading as my interest when I became a teacher.

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  18. How funny Alan, when the other kids were playing at shops, you were playing at libraries! Our family had the Display Case Library too - with a few photos and trophies to pad out the gaps.

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  19. My mother and my daughters used to have their own libraries. I don't remember doing it myself though.

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  20. Considering the cost of postage between Dominica and Huddersfield, I think you'd both be better off just keeping each other's books.

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  21. Happy Easter dear Alan!

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  22. My grandparents had their books proudly displayed in a bookcase. When I was a child they had a set of encyclopedias, Readers Digest books, an atlas and Uncle Arthur books. The big Family Bible was always on the coffee table. I also played library at home with my siblings. We had a date stamp too.

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  23. But what about the best books that make you stay awake all night to finish reading?! LOL

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    1. Alan, that is so sweet. My friend and I turned our shed into a lending library one summer. Nobody but us really used it, and the books came back to our mothers smelling musty, but we had a great time with that adventure.

      Kathy M.

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  24. Ahhh, I did not have a library photo to share and got beyond the time to post this week. But I love this little tale about your former library--how special that must have been. And today, I am very happy in our library/study where the books have overtaken all the shelves. It seems many of us on Sepia are lifetime readers.

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  25. I've always been surrounded by books, not an awful lot, the equivalent of two [packed] tall bookshelves, but they are mainly about art and photography, history and a few bios, and some entertaining novels, while others are inspiring. I've always enjoyed them all as they opened me to worlds I might not have known otherwise...
    :)~
    HUGZ

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  26. Alan, a wonderful recollection of your library. Yes, surrounded by books is the best place to sit, read and have a happy snooze! I loved your post. T.

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  27. I love books too Alan, I can picture you in a room full of books and a comfortable chair:)

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