I was invited to Hornsey library by author pals Emer Stamp and Polly Faber and we also roped in Keren David and S.F.Said too. There are a lot of lovely authors in Haringey, and I’ve also discovered a rather fabulous selection of fine buns …
We had arranged to meet in the cafe part of the library upstairs around lunchtime and so before then I snooped around the book shelves to get a feel for what the Hornsey’s like. I’d been here once before but had mostly spent time in the children’s library. I remember well it being chocker-full with little ones singing but I hadn’t explored any of the other areas.
The whole of the main room felt like it was humming with production. I was very lucky to get a seat as almost every desk was taken over with either text books or a computer and a slightly hunched-over person to boot.
Matthew, who was studying for his Biology GCSE, had the minor misfortune of having a spare seat next to him as I’m sorry to say I disturbed his note-taking to speak to him in an appropriately hushed library whisper.
“I’ve been coming here for two weeks,” he told me. “All my friends are here.” He gestured to the rest of the room, the rows of backs.
“It’s a good atmosphere for working. There’s a room over there which is for quiet study. That’s why all of us are here. You should look in there. But it gets very busy and so that’s why I’m out here.”
I didn’t want to disturb the quiet study room as well but here’s the view from through the window.
One of the main attractions for Matthew was clearly the community that surrounded him here.
When I asked why he preferred revising in the Hornsey rather than at home, he immediately responded, “Well, I can meet my friends for lunch here.”
As the main reason that I’d made the journey to Haringey that day was to chat to other authors over buns, I whole-heartedly understood this motivation. The library is a space to work, certainly, but also to connect to others about our work. Or completely different things. But to other actual real life people, that were sitting next to us.
For Matthew going through his exams, and for me in the process of writing and publishing books, it offered us the opportunity to speak to and share with people who were doing the same thing as we were.
I left Matthew still busily taking notes and went in search of the cafe.
It was busy there too. S.F. almost ran towards a spare table and we deposited bags and collected chairs (having to disturb a life-drawing class that was going on in the room next door to find enough for us all.) Emer and S.F. brought with them a spectacular range of baked goods and we dug in. We were only a little icing-smeared by the time Polly and Keren joined us.
We spoke about what we were each up to, shared stories and worries and jokes but approximately 90% of our author conversation was filled with buns and laughing so hard, we were shushed by a nearby table of some more teenagers revising.
“You’re in a library, you know!” they said, warningly.
But by that point, we really had the giggles.