I always wonder this. Where do the books go? What sort of libraries does everyone else have? There must be some enormous collections out there. I know that, if allowed to, libraries take on a life of their own that is way beyond anything we can direct. People mention this.
Some visitors carry out armfuls. Some just one. But it’s the same thing; the intensity of the capture is identical whether one or some. It’s impossible to tell another person why or even exactly what one has found. Last Tuesday, John carried seven large volumes of history, in two Woolworths shopping bags. He was bent over with the weight when he went out the door.
I said, ‘But where’s your car?’ And he said, ‘No, no, I’m all right,’ while looking down at the bags he was carrying with eyes like jewels.
Do children make libraries? They are particular about their books, staring at covers for a long time. Once a child stood over a table, examining an illustration, tapping it as he stared, not hearing me, or the traffic, not even the thunder storm outside that pushed all of Strathalbyn under cover. When he bought it, he walked outside into the rain without noticing that either.
Some young readers have by memory every title on their shelves. They describe the size of their collection by how good the books are that are in it. Thus a collection of six books can challenge a national state library in terms of significance.
Illustration by Erin McGuire