Personally, I see visiting a library as one of the best ways to learn about a new city. You’ll find students, tourists, the general public, teachers, parents, children and so many other people from different walks of life. It feels almost very local walking into a public library which gives you a sense of belonging, creativity and forces you to learn and inquire for something.
In 2017, Fleur Morrison published an article on Huff Post examining a trend in library tourism. I resonated with several points she mentioned and wanted to bring it to light in a time when we’d rather queue up for landmarks we are enforced to see rather than walk right into a library.
Starting off on a light note, libraries are – from all sites, landmarks and attractions in a city – free to enter. Don’t wait for a library to become a historic landmark where you’ll have to pay a fee to enter! Visit it now whilst it’s booming with people, literature, words of great writers and most importantly great architecture and design. Libraries do not require any bookings and according to Morrison are ‘far more representative of the everyday lives of those who use them’.
Libraries speak for themselves and you don’t really need to take out your guide book to read more about it. Enter a library and immerse yourself in the many descriptive and basic books about the place you’re in and the library you’re in. You’ll find a lot more than you have in your guide book and most importantly, you’ll find details about the city and the library that you will not find in your guidebook.
To me, there are two important reasons why I visit libraries when travelling; to find tranquility and to appreciate what writers have left behind for us.
Due to the respect former authors ought to be given, I’ll start off by explaining what I mean by writers.
Writers of the past and present have toiled away working hard to write what they wrote. In books, one will find information that you may not find in social media, guidebooks, TV or the internet. People often argue that the internet has everything and one can find whatever they want on there. True but not true! Whilst the internet may be a sea of information, it’s only when you know how to look and what to look for that you’ll be successful in your search. People pay a great deal of money to appear at the top search results of google and most people usually click on them. No one really bothers to scroll and scroll until they find what they are looking for. Some things I search for yield a whooping 9 million results!
With a library, you don’t have to find your way through all that. Find the subject you are looking for, locate a book that interests you, sit down, save your eyes from some of the exposure and bright light that emanates from your phone and enjoy! You’ll find that one page of book is more intellectually satisfying than scrolling through heaps of pages of google search results. Plus, with books in the library, the writers are established, respected and well known which gives credibility and authenticity to what you are reading. Writers of books have spent sometimes years of their lives producing their best, whilst writers on the internet may have written an article within an hour.
The other reason I visit libraries is because I look for peace and tranquility in its confines. Silence and thought are hallmarks of a peaceful and inquisitive library which allows you to reflect and contemplate. Reflecting and contemplation are two very important factors our bodies require in order to positively move forward and work through negative thoughts. Our minds are very strong entities and require maintaining and nourishment just like our physical bodies. By sitting in a quiet place, filled with an atmosphere of thought, it’s easy to think, read, contemplate and rejuvenate your mind before heading back out to the chaos of wherever you may be.
To end on a lighter note, libraries are also community hubs. Of course there are separate areas to do this. You can come here to gather with others, socialise and get a nice view of either the library or the outside whilst enjoying a nice hot or cold drink.
Do you like visiting libraries when travelling?