Thursday, 13 December 2012

Jessica & the New Library Card

I was standing by the issue desk in Kirkwall Library when I was caught by the excitement beside me. It came from Jessica Watson, pictured, who was there with her grandfather giving her details for her first library card. I asked her a bit about herself. 

I'm nine, she said, though technically I'm ten, or I will be on the first of January. I like all types of books, fiction and non-fiction. One of my favourite authors is Jacqueline Wilson. I got into her writing when I read one of her Tracy Beaker books.

I used to come here with my mum and I would read while she was using the computer. Now I can come here and borrow books!

After I'd asked for a photo of her, proudly holding up her new library card, she went off with her grandad to browse the shelves. She must have been looking for a particular title, because I heard her grandfather suggest that they look up the library catalogue on the computer to find out where the book was. A good team effort!

Her excitement reminds me of my own, the day I joined Kirkwall library. At that time it was in Laing Street. I chose my book, Russian Fairytales, full of giants and seven league boots, read it that night, took it back the next day and chose another one. 

Do any blog readers out there have memories of the library when it was in Laing Street? Or of the Stromness library, which will soon move to a new building at the pier head? We would love to hear from you if you do.

Short Stories

The display that Steven set up of short story collections is now considerably depleted. I'd love to know who is borrowing them and what they think. But short of hovering beside it all day, or setting up CCTV surveillance, I have to content myself with imagining some folk enjoying books they might not otherwise have come across.

Here is the second part of what Majella who works here had to say of her own love of short stories.

"Among the short story collections currently available for loan at the Orkney Library & Archive are: Furnace by Wayne Price and What we talk about when we talk about Anne Frank by Nathan Englander.  Both collections have received glowing reviews.  Also available is winner of the Best of National Book Awards Fiction Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor. 

"My personal favourite remains Dubliners by James Joyce.  This collection of stories portraying the everyday lives of Dublin people has the ability to launch me back to a city which I have come to know and love from many visits to my sister.  It is a city steeped in history and has long been home to writers, musicians and artists.  Just being in that great city can make you feel very much alive.

"The fifteen short stories recount the brutal realism of the lives of ordinary people as they endure the limitations of their banal existence.  Joyce's characters reflect his deep insight into the human condition.  He had the ability to take what may seem ordinary and transform it into something sublime. Joyce was adept at guiding a character to their moment of epiphany.  Despite the tragic undertone to this collection Dubliners evokes the excitement and vitality of a still vibrant city.

"I draw great pleasure from reading short stories.  Often they cover subjects that have a resonance for the reader which is very gratifying. A good short story can hold up a mirror to our own life and sometimes shed some light on it.   A remark or comment made by a character in a story can lead us to revisit our actions or words and see them from another person's perspective.

I find short stories compelling as well as entertaining because by their very structure they give the reader a quick and deep insight into another's life.  This skill is fascinating and remains for me the reason why I find the short story genre immensely satisfying."

Thank you for that, Majella. It makes me want to go back and reread The Dubliners. I'll have to wait till whoever has borrowed it brings it back!


  1. Yes. As a child I remember rushing into the library at Laing St on a Saturday night, just before 8pm (I think) when it closed, to get my two books. The staff had my library card ready waiting for me. Never took me long to find a couple of books so they were stamped before closing time! Of course I ended up working there while I was a student.

    1. Thanks Alison! Great to read about another library enthusiast. I loved the Laing Street Library. Love the 'new' one too - it's a great space with a really good atmosphere and fantastic staff - but there's nothing to beat your first library! Lucky you to have got to work there as a student.



Tell me your stories about reading; share your experiences of Orkney Libraries; let me know your favourite books and tell me why you like them.