I can remember getting my first library card, and the excitement of the fortnightly visit to the library. We had to wait until after tea then off we'd go with Dad; my sister and I in pyjamas after our baths so I must have been young - five maybe, or six - when we first started going. It was magic! All those books, and I could choose whatever I wanted. I'd take the maximum allowed and always have them finished by the weekend.
The smell of the place has stayed with me all these years, a scent memory that can transport me right back in an eyewink. There's a second hand bookshop in the city which smells exactly the same - it's a smell of mystery, of knowledge and fantasy and salvation for a shy little girl who spent her weekends in her bedroom with books while the house rocked under the onslaught of my sister's friends.
I just checked the library opening hours and it still opens until 8pm Monday to Friday.
And today during one of my lunchtime rambles I came across a bookshop I didn't know about, an independent bookshop in a side street. It's a smallish place, compared to the likes of Dymocks or QBD but still enough to keep me happily browsing until I was going to be late back to work.
The book I've had for the longest (not counting the books that were my father's and came to me upon his death) is Celtic Mythology which bears a faceplate from Sydney Church of England Girls' Grammar School, which was awarded to me for Language (Achievement), in December 1972. My most recent aquisition is Jonathon Strange and Mr Norrell; I wonder if I'll still have that in 44 years' time.