At the moment I live on the border of two councils, which means I have two sets of library systems and two library cards. Both library systems are a delight. The Jubilee Library in Brighton is a vast airy place with three light wells in the roof and an upper floor that seems to almost float, unattached to the nearby walls. Then there’s the library on the Lewes side – not Lewes itself because it’s a bit of a slog, but just ten minutes away on the bus. Small and clean with a lovely sort of reading tube for my daughter to sit in. This tube’s padded surfaces and close curves remind me of the future of space travel as envisioned by Stanley Kubrick. All that’s missing is a Monolith at the check-out desk.
If there was a Monolith I would be in trouble, because if I have a secret talent it’s for running up accidentally gigantic fines at libraries. Now I can run up two fines at once. When I go, every few months, to pay them off, such are the baroque flourishes of the fines I run up, the people I meet at the payment desks seem almost impressed.
Here’s the thing, though. There’s a third library nearby. I heard about it a month ago, via a blurry photograph on my wife’s Facebook post. A “Little Library” as the name has it. I instantly knew I had to visit. But I also felt I had visited before. Hmm.