Posted by: bluesyemre | July 31, 2018

A day in the #library (This is a safe space for people)


In other countries libraries may be under threat but there’s a queue every morning outside Dublin’s Central Library…

Shortly before 10am, 40 people are waiting at the steps that lead to the Central Library in the Ilac Centre, Dublin. “Some mornings you’d think there’s a sale on,” says moustachioed library attendant Vincent Thomas a little later.

Elsewhere in the world libraries are under threat. In the UK, local libraries are closing. Recently a Forbes article, since removed, suggested that libraries could be replaced by Amazon stores. In Ireland, in refreshing contrast, there are plans to extend opening hours from 8 to 10 and to remove library fines.

The Government also announced this week that it is going to spend €8 million  to deliver iPads, workstations, podcasting equipment, interactive whiteboards and other forms of technology for hundreds of public libraries.

Irish people love their libraries. They use them to access books, DVDs, music, free courses, book and film clubs and performances. According to figures from 2017, the Central Library gets an average of 1563 visitors a day and has 24,682 active borrowers.

John is an engineer but he has been homeless since his career collapsed over twelve years ago. Now, he says, the library is “a lifeline”

So by five-past-10, three quarters of the seats are full with people of all ages and nationalities. At one end of the library, in the music section, a middle-aged man in a baggy white t-shirt is playing keyboards hooked up to headphones. He plays me a strange, beautiful little melody with a simple bass part on the left hand. “That’s my own composition,” he says.

John is an engineer but he has been homeless since his career collapsed over 12  years ago. “I couldn’t recover myself to be honest with you,” he says. Now, the library is “a lifeline”.

He had never played an instrument until a year ago when he spotted this keyboard and gave it a try. Since then he has taught himself to read music and he plays here every morning. “I am actually autistic and ordinarily engaging autistic people is difficult enough… but music really engages this…” He touches his chest.

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