Monday, 11 October 2010

The new girl visits an old library

Five Leaves' new worker Pippa Hennessy found a lot to interest her at our last book launch: the venue: "...Bromley House Library, in the centre of Nottingham, which I haven’t been to before but certainly intend to go to to again. It’s a subscription library (costs £75 per year, or £40 for full-time students), which is about the only down side. The entrance is easy to miss – a nondescript doorway next to Barnardos charity shop on Angel Row – but once you go inside it’s like the wardrobe in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. There are three floors of books, ranging from modern novels to Victorian novels, church history, economics, old issues of Punch
"The first floor has a room with a ‘meridian line’ – a brass line on the floor running exactly North-South, which, in conjunction with a panel covering the window with a strategically placed hole, and a plumb-bob, enables you to determine exactly when midday is in Nottingham. According to engraved silver plates on a nearby grandfather clock, this is 4’33 later than midday at Greenwich, and 4’10 later than St Paul’s Cathedral.
"The second floor is reached via a rickety spiral staircase. Notices tied to the banisters at the top and bottom with red ribbon ask that only one person uses the staircase at any one time. A balcony runs round above one of the first floor rooms (crammed with books, of course), and there are many nooks and crannies where members can curl up with books and read quietly.
"A notice on the way up to the third floor warns that the same level of comfort is not to be found in the attics, and recommends wrapping up warm in the winter! Then you get to the top of the stairs and find a heavy duty torch placed strategically… there are lights, but I did wonder how reliable they are. I found some gorgeous maps of the city centre, showing how it had changed over the years. I didn’t spot a date, but it looked as if they showed an original draft sometime in the 1800s (did you know there used to be two skating rinks on Talbot Street?), with red outlines drawn over to show how the city looked at the time – probably around the middle of the century. I want to go back there just to look at those maps again..."

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