Your Not-So-Local Library

When you think about it, it’s kind of funny to visit a library as a tourist as you can’t check out a book, but as we know, some of the most beautiful and historic buildings in the world are libraries.

When I found out that I would be going to Edinburgh for the first time, family members (a big thank you to my big brother) and fellow bloggers (a big thank you to and suggested that I visit the Scottish Poetry Library.

Off of Canongate, on the somewhat hidden away Crighton’s Close, the library is a relatively small modern building with two floors.

it’s very easy to miss this “street” so don’t get distracted by the charm of the surrounding area…

For a moment, I envisaged living in Edinburgh, that this was my bicycle, that I was here to choose a new book of collected poetry…

While I couldn’t check out any books, there is a little gift shop where I picked up a book of poetry …what else, of course!

The Scottish Poetry Library is somewhat well known (although when I asked a taxi driver for directions, he had no idea where it was and sheepishly – no Scottish pun intended- told me that it was the first time in 20 years that someone had asked him where the Scottish Poetry Library was).  But, it’s certainly not grandiose or awe inspiring like some famous libraries that we so often visit.  However, its charm left me wondering:

maybe our travels should always include a stop to the local public library, just as we would stop and sit at the local café for an espresso to watch people go by.

Public libraries could help us get a feel for a town and its people.  We could look at what books are being recommended, what literary events are being advertised.  We could observe the children being read to in the local language.  Maybe it would help us imagine what it would be like to live there, the latest novel in our bike basket as we rush home to make dinner before the sun sets……

23 thoughts on “Your Not-So-Local Library

  1. My mother lives in a rural area where the library is housed in the volunteer fire department. To borrow a book, one writes one’s name and phone number on a legal pad – just in case someone else wants to borrow that book. Often, when I finish a good book, I mail it to my mother so that she can donate it to the library.

    • How lovely! It reminds me a bit of our Recycling Center in the town I live in which has a little stand where you can leave books you no longer want and take books that please you. I love “back to basic” libraries like that! That’s so sweet of you to mail your books to to your mother so she can donate them to her library 🙂

  2. J’ai adore la description d’une public library…. What it means to people, ce qu’on peut “deviner” des gens qui vivent la.
    Loved it

  3. I try to always make a point to visit a library when I’m in a new city. When I visited Washington I went to the Shakespeare Folger library and of course the Library of Congress. And in New York when my friend asked me what was the first landmark I wanted to see, I replied “The New York Public Library please!!” So I agree with your advice to visit a library when visiting a new city; so much can be learned about the people and how they live.

    Great post – wonderful photos! Edinburgh is on my list of places to travel to next – once I have enough pennies saved.

    • That’s so great that you always visit libraries when you travel. I only do it when the libraries are really famous but will now get into the habit of visiting the little ones too. I love that the first thing you wanted to visit in NYC was the Library! such a bibliophile answer- perfect 🙂

    • You’re right, comparing libraries is so interesting and even more so for you as you work in a library! I do a lot of research in libraries (and therefore, a lot of daydreaming in between coming up with ideas!) so the nooks and crannies of libraries are important to me. Noticing how different libraries live and breathe is so fascinating 🙂 Thanks for dropping by!

    • It’s been so interesting to hear that so many other people do it as well! I only tend to visit famous ones but will now make it a point to visit the little local ones as well 🙂

  4. That’s a lovely idea. I spent days in Italy wondering through churches, and thinking about it, I would’ve preferred their libraries. My few hours at the New York Public Library were wonderful!

    • It’s true, we already see churches, synagogues and buddhist temples as sort of visiting tourist destinations, but don’t always think of libraries. I love spending time in the New York Public Library too 🙂

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