‘Not only are they closing libraries by the back door, but they’re taking away the soul’ by GG

In her previous article, GG wrote about libraries being a lifeline for so many communities. In this piece, she reflects on a recent visit to the library in Brixton and the impact Covid-19 restrictions have had on a space where human connection and conversation can help so many overcome feelings of loneliness, trauma and anxiety.


Audio Transcription

So this is a follow on from the previous article where I wrote about libraries being closed by the back door, and last Friday I went to visit a library and it was the first time I’ve been to library in over a year. And I went to Brixton library and had the booking system. I was allowed half an hour. Now, the reason I went is I’ve just started teaching an art class in a psychiatric hospital and I wanted to get some inspiration for the patients, for the class. 

I went to these books. When I first got there. I was noticed how eerily quiet it is, for those of you who haven’t been to Brixton library, it’s a very big library right in the centre of Brixton and it’s usually packed, noisy, there’s children, there’s people on computers, there’s people reading newspapers and it’s a real energy. So because the booking system and only a few people allowed in a time, there was like a handful of people in the whole place. And at first I kind of thought, oh, this is so great. I can choose any book I want. No one can be in my way. I don’t feel uncomfortable. 

I have complex trauma so I quite often come feel anxious that people are standing close to me that I don’t know. But I quickly realised that all the energy had gone because there was no people. And I’m someone who’s a big fan of libraries. As I’ve previously said, I’ve spent a lot of years in libraries and I’ve very often struck up a conversation with someone. ‘Oh, that’s a really good book you’re reading’ and ‘oh, excuse me, do you have the time and nice weather’ and chit chat, something not even anything. 

But if you have a history of homelessness and trauma, you have spent many, many years, many years, many hours alone. And sometimes that human interaction is so uplifting to yourself. And I just wanted to come on here today and do like a follow up because like. Not only are they closing libraries by the back door, but they’re taking away the soul, taking away the humanity and they’re just making everything joyless and everything soulless. 

And homeless people and people with lived experience of homelessness and those who are recovering from trauma and those who are learning how to smile and live again and exist and be part of society and say, yeah, I’m here and I’m OK and I’m going to go to the library today and I’m going to get out a book. And it’s not going to cost me any money. And while I’m there I might chat to someone, I might have some conversation and some old lady might tell me something about something she did in nineteen sixty three and I might go home and do a picture inspired by it. And that’s how human connections work. 

So we must try to find the sort of key in the darkness of everything they’re trying to change about this world, and if you see someone talk to them, try and make conversation or someone tries to talk to you. You know, I understand sometimes you’re in a rush. We don’t want to always talk to everyone, but if someone is trying to say hello or something, it could really make that day.