What Do Libraries Smell Like?

Every Christmas when I was small, I was given amongst other things a collection of books. I think my love for reading started when I learned how to read at 5 years old. Since then I have read many books on all different subjects – fact, fiction, how to’s, how don’ts; a wealth of knowledge can be obtained from reading. As I child, I was known as “the book worm”.

I always had my head in a book – I would go to sleep and wake up in the morning with crumpled pages and book corners poking my eyes out! Enid Blyton was my favourite author. I would read all about the magic of fairyland and dolls coming to life to make mischief! Then I discovered “The Secret Seven” from my father’s book case which happened to be the first in a series of Secret Seven Mysteries! Oh what joy! As I got older, “The Naughtiest Girl in the School”, again by Enid Blyton, was a series of books that I was absolutely fascinated with.

At school I would spend my lunch hour in the library studying and boy, did I get bullied for that! On a Saturday I would browse through the art shop, across the street to the book shop and then straight to the library! It was a wonderful old library; dark wooden book cases that stretched from the floor to the ceiling, filled with books on all subjects! Files of little drawers with cards in them, documenting all of the books in the building – what they were, where they were, who the author was and numbered – so many numbers! The large old Victorian staircase with lovely polished oak rails stretched to the first floor that was filled with works of art. Amongst the maze of bookcases, tables and chairs were laid out for one to sit and read or study. And the smell! The smell of old books was the most wonderful smell that I will never forget!

Nowadays however the e-book seems to have taken over from traditional books. If you don’t know what an e-book is, it’s an “electronic” book that one can download from the internet and read immediately. You don’t have to go to the store to buy it or to the library to borrow it. E-books don’t weigh anything, they only take up space on your hard drive – they can be printed out if you so wish – anyone can write an e-book! However, there is something lacking in an e-book that normal books have. The feel of a leather bound book in your hand, the smell of the paper – nothing can take away the thrill of that!

Do you know what a library smells like? I do!