Iwas just 10 years old when my teacher Mrs Atkins set our class the task of visiting a library and researching Queen Victoria and the Victorian era.
So off I went with my dad to Portsmouth Central Library, which I remember thinking was huge and a whole world of its own, and I came home holding many books featuring the 19th century monarch
Since that day I have not set foot in another library and the only reason I can put it down to is being part of the internet generation. What I might have headed to the library for previously can now be found using my broadband connection, smartphone or e-reader.
But almost two decades later I found myself back in the library. My daughter Caitlin loves the Roald Dahl film Matilda, in which the little girl visits the library.
We’ve watched it so many times I probably now know it word for word. In the film the friendly librarian tells Matilda that she can have a library card and take home as many books as she likes.
It was after one viewing of this film that Caitlin asked if she could visit the world of books.
She loves to read and be read to, so I wondered why I’d never thought of it before.
A few days later we got in the car and drove to the Beddow Library in Milton, a place I had driven past probably hundreds of times but had never thought to enter.
I stereotypically expected to be greeted by a softly-spoken female librarian at the reception desk and that’s exactly what happened.
In fact there were two of them who made us feel very welcome and issued us both with our own library cards.
I was surprised at how different the atmosphere was compared to my last visit all those years ago.
I didn’t feel the need to whisper or keep a check on Caitlin’s volume, especially as there was a parent and child group in progress which instantly projected a fun feeling and made Caitlin feel at ease in what I’d expected to be an adult environment.
Also young people are well and truly catered for at the Beddow Library with a large section dedicated to children’s books, which Caitlin enjoyed wading through looking for something to read.
After choosing which books to take home with us I was also pleasantly surprised at how technologically advanced the place is.
No longer do you hand the books over to the librarian to be stamped with the date of return.
Instead you just place the books into a scanner, which picks up the microchip stuck to each book and prints you out a receipt, and you’re done.
Caitlin enjoyed her trip to the library and is looking forward to returning soon.