Earlier this year I just missed the opening of the refurbished children’s department at Halmstad Library, and I promised myself I’d go along and have a look later. This I’ve now done. I wasn’t sure at first if it’d be a noticeable change, or just some new paint here and there.
It was much more than that, and really quite attractive. They have money to spend in Sweden, and children and books do well. There is a tiny carpeted bridge for small feet to run across. And back. And back again.
In fact there are several carpeted areas for small children to crawl on all fours in. And bigger children to just enjoy lazing around in. You have to take your shoes off, and there are signs that make this quite clear and there are pigeon holes to put the shoes in.
They have a small kitchen style room to the side, called a workshop, where parents and young children sit round a kitchen table, doing stuff. I wish I could have taken Offspring somewhere like that, back when.
There is an astronomy area, with space-y carpet. And there are tables at which you can play Ludo and similar. I was gratified to discover a prominently displayed copy of Kodnamn Verity, that well-known book by Elizabeth Wein, my second favourite, ever.
That was in translation, but should you need fiction in English, there are many shelf metres of the stuff. More than in some English language libraries.
Further along there are still the comfy lime-green armchairs for adults and plenty of desks for people to plonk their laptops down and work. That is if they are able to with such a good view of the river outside.
And when you’ve had enough carpet and wifi you can eat a fresh prawn sandwich in the adjacent café. By that I mean freshly shelled prawns, and even I was surprised to find this kind of quality in a library. Plentiful prawns too.
But if you’re tempted to think this is unadulterated paradise, it isn’t. I lost my balance a little, standing next to the carpeted moon surface and put one little shoe-clad foot over the edge of the carpet. Luckily for the safety of any child, the librarian wasn’t too busy to notice and she was able to come and tell me off straightaway.
On occasion I feel that Swedes need to consider public relations and kindness, and not merely the cleanliness of carpets or style to die for.