Words by Sarah-Ann Dillon, Photos by Caroline Finn
More than 50 years ago there existed, in Clydebank, a place of magic.
I am happy to say that building still exists today.
I don’t even have to close my eyes to remember…the Children’s Room in my local library.
A library assistant sat at a dark brown desk, straight ahead as you entered.
You could hear the wee click of the date stamp as she stamped the return date, on issued books.
The distinctive scent of new paper in pristine books, awaited an encounter with their first reader.
To the right and left of the door and around the other three walls child height shelves housed fiction stories and non-fiction books.
Such was my delight; I can still recall the specific shelf locations of my favourite books.
First Books Borrowed
The first two books I borrowed from the library were one factual book about the North Pole and one fiction story book; the story set on a ship travelling across the world and aptly titled ‘A Voyage of Discovery’.
My choice of books was influenced by the fact I was born in Dumbarton and grew up beside the River Clyde; living on South Bank Street you couldn’t get any nearer the river.
My imagination was fired when my father took me on walks along the river and floating in front of me were ships from all over the world.
As we crossed the water on the Yoker – Renfrew Ferry my Dad said we were going to America and being a toddler, I believed him.
So, the facts and stories in the books I borrowed from the library enhanced what I saw and experienced every day, feeding my vivid imagination.
Strength Found Through Reading
Moving on a few years, my mother was in hospital long-term and with my dad holding down a full-time job, my aunt came to help look after me.
Together we developed a special bond through a love of reading.
By this time I was borrowing the fictional ‘Nancy Drew’ books by Carolyn Keene from the library.
I would pretend to be Nancy, an American girl detective, and get caught up solving crimes.
As my aunt read these books to me each evening, I could relax and worry less about my mum being ill and not at home with me.
This early habit and love of reading has stayed with me and I have gone on to share my passion with other library users and readers.
Together we attended author talks in local libraries and other events as part of the annual West Dunbartonshire Book Festival.
We’ve enjoyed evenings of listening to music, book and poetry readings.
It really is possible to lose yourself in a good book where the plot and characters are so compelling you want to read on…and on.
Reading is a great pastime if you are alone and equally a fantastic hobby to share with others.
With fellow bibliophiles I have met in the library, we have hosted our own reading/ writing/book groups.
As well as making real friends we made virtual friends of characters in books.
I am looking forward to being able to meet up again in our local libraries.
Throughout West Dunbartonshire we are very fortunate to have eight branch libraries, all offering a wide variety of books, CDs, DVDs and on-line resources.
As a schoolchild, to my family, books were a luxury.
Getting my library membership opened a whole new world of discovery.
It has been a pleasure to share my story with you and invite you to join with me on your own Voyage of Discovery.
Who knows where that journey may lead….