Friday, 9 October 2015

The story lorry - Anne Rooney

Two weeks ago I took MicroBint to the mobile library. Does anyone else still have a mobile library?

As I helped MicroBint to climb the giants steps, each as tall as her waist, I was suddenly only about three feet tall again. Inside the, floor rocked. Remember the scary rocking of the floor, as if the mobile library had put to sea? Remember the silver-haired pirates behind that turning book thing? This time there were no crocodiles to fear in that gap you could fall into when reaching for the first step from the kerb - well, not that I saw.

Inside it was the same as it ever was. A friendly lady-librarian greeted MicroBint and told her where the books for small people were - right at the back. That seemed strange; I had gone straight to the shelf on the right where they used to be fifty years and a hundred miles ago.

MicroBint's favourite from the story lorry
The other library users were all older people (it was the middle of a school day). They spoke kindly to MicroBint and made space for her to get through. I tried to keep MicroBint quiet, but it wasn't going to happen. Too many happy squeals. We stayed for the 15 minutes before the library had to move on. She pulled down all the books she wanted to look at, we read some and then she put them all neatly back. She had just spent her first three days at nursery and had learned that unless you are at home you have to put stuff away. I tried to persuade her she could take books with her, but she didn't trust that idea, so I chose a couple for her to borrow. The library-lady gave her a sticker.

I never got a sticker. I just got books. But my library lady, all those years ago, had a large dog which lived in the cupboard in the cab. I eyed the cupboard in the cab of this library suspiciously. No tell-tale 'Beware of the dog sign'. No water bowl on the floor of the library. No lead hanging over the driver's seat. Was this a substandard mobile library? Had cuts in the library service meant dogs were no longer supplied? I had seen a photo of the dog that travelled in my mobile library. I remember, actually, when I brought MicroBint's mother to the mobile library, only about 15 years ago, that there was already no dog.

We struggled down the steps, looking out for the crocodiles, and went home. The lorry full of stories rumbled on to the next stop, near the playground. With or without dog.

Anne Rooney
Next book: Story of Maps, October 2015


Joan Lennon said...

Thank you for sparking memories!

catdownunder said...

We have mobile libraries here Downunder - and yes, the floor rocks.
I have just been writing about another library service that was around when I was child - the Children's Country Lending Service. The books came by train from Adelaide - over 400 miles away. My brother and I would pedal down to the railway siding and, avoiding the large goanna which lived there, collect our parcels of books. You were only supposed to get four books a month that way but the librarians in the city knew me and I was getting four books a fortnight. It still wasn't enough!

Stroppy Author said...

So we only have a crocodile but you had a dragon! wow!

Nick Green said...

Calls to mind this lyric by The Divine Comedy:

Daddy runs the mobile library
He works peripatetically.

catdownunder said...

I hadn't thought of a goanna as a dragon - we used to think of it as a baby dinosaur!