Day 3: Finsbury Library – I’ve come here to have some peace #30days30libraries

There was some work that I needed to do before I did anything else and so I sat in one of little work spaces, all fitted with handy power points, that were scattered across the library.

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Next to me was a boy completing his maths homework sitting with his father.

“We come here a lot for him to do his homework. There are no distractions for him here,” the father told me. He then watched his son pluck a book off a shelf and march off to another corner of the library. ‘Well, almost none.”

When I’d finished sending some emails and finally let myself come up for air, I noticed that almost everyone in there, apart from the boy and his dad next to me, were very much in their own bubbles.

Most sat alone. Some were reading a newspaper, or a magazine. Others worked on computers and told people off who were talking next to them.

“I cannot concentrate when you are talking,” a man typing retorted to a couple of girls that greeted each other.

One man simply sat, with nothing in front of him.

The bookshelves were curved, giving the impression of waves, dapples of water across a lake’s surface.

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I saw a woman, who had a well-stuffed trolley next to her, which made me wonder if she lived on the streets, flicking through a huge pile of books in front of her.

As soon as she had finished looking through one book, she reached urgently for the next. It looked as though she were taking notes, or conducting research. I glanced at the books and glimpsed a couple of the titles: Celebrity Bakes was one. Another, a glossy hardback cookbook based on the cuisine of Argentina.

“I’m having a really bad day,” she told me. “I’ve come here to have some peace. I really need to calm down.”

I spoke to another woman who told me that she came here quite often to use the computers. She owned a tablet but there were lots of things that she couldn’t do on it and so the computers were handy for her.

But today, she had some time on her hands before work. She sat in a corner, looking at her phone, eating her lunch.

“I’ve come in here today,” she said, “just to get away from it all a bit. Escape from …” She waved in the direction of the outside world.

She wasn’t the only one.

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