Tag Archives: Halmstad library

The easy read

Another thing I discovered at the library (see yesterday), was their section of beginners’ fiction in English.

Well, that’s what they called it. I noticed the thin books in English by, among others, Bali Rai and Kevin Brooks on the shelves on the end of one of the sections.

I didn’t recognise these books, so went closer, and realised that they were older Barrington Stoke titles. And yes, as such they are easier to read. Shorter and in a simpler language, and thereby ideal for the novice reader of English. We should have had books like that when I was at school! We got Somerset Maugham instead.

Have no idea how popular they will be, now that impatient young readers tackle Harry Potter in the original, because they can’t wait. And I get the impression that having started, many young teens go on to read a lot more in English, because they’ve realised it’s possible. That they can.

But for those who can’t, these dyslexia friendly books are just the thing.

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Barefoot among the prawns

Halmstad Library

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.

Halmstad Library

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.

Halmstad Library

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.

Halmstad Library

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.

Halmstad Library

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.

Halmstad Library

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.

Halmstad Library

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.

Treasure your library

It’s not new, this idea of saving libraries. People are working hard to prevent closures, or this idea of ‘merely’ giving the school librarian the sack, leaving the books to look after themselves. Lots of authors, and others, were out marching a couple of weeks ago in London. I wish I could have been there.

And then there was this open letter during the week from Chris Riddell and Malorie Blackman and all the other former laureates, to save our libraries. I don’t feel that this should even have to be on the to-do list for children’s laureates, past or present. The threat should not be there.

Yesterday I mentioned the effect of libraries on a couple of authors, one of whom won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize this week. Alex Wheatle’s obvious joy on winning, and his totally unrehearsed speech on how the library [in Brixton] made him who he is, was very moving.

Whether we blame national government who really could shift spending money from weapons to libraries, or the local councils who are financially squeezed everywhere and ‘must’ save, is a matter of opinion.

Halmstad Library

Melvin Burgess BH library

But it shouldn’t be like in my former home town in Sweden, which has a lovely, newly built library, where clearly no expense was spared, which now has problems with vandalism. Mindless teen gangs come in – maybe because they are bored – and they are rowdy and they break things [toilets, for instance] and generally disturb the users of the library, forcing staff to call in security.

It seems they are now trying ‘youth leaders’ and they will hopefully have a positive effect. Or, they could try putting books by Melvin Burgess [see yesterday’s post] in their hands and making them read.

Let’s hope it’s not too late. I don’t have much hope, but let’s hope anyway.

Save our libraries week

The response in the Guardian to the open letter to the Hulture Minister – organised by Alan Gibbons – back in early December almost came as a shock. Quite a few people were saying they don’t like libraries. They were suggesting they were unnecessary.

I suppose it’s refreshing that not everyone nods wisely, saying that of course they agree with the campaign. Though if you read all the comments it’s clear that there is a lot of support for our libraries. And the comments show that we are now fighting for something that is important. Once lost it won’t come back.

To kick off a few blog posts about libraries I’ll tell you about my first one, because at the moment I can’t get to my most recent library. And that’s not the library’s fault. (Well, it is in a way, because if it was next door to me it would be so easy to get there.) I’ll try to pop in and take a photo for a later post about it. Unless photography isn’t allowed. You never know these days.

Several authors have blogged about their own libraries from childhood onwards. I can’t match their fervour, but I did like my library. So much so, that I was seriously annoyed when they built a new and even better replacement a few years ago.

Nolltrefem, Halmstad

Mother-of-witch took me to get a library card when I was six, which was officially too early but they allowed it as I could read. From then on I went into town on my own for the next six years, walking to begin with and then cycling. I didn’t read every book in that library, but at times it felt like it.

We moved to another town when I was twelve, but the children’s department in the new library had little to offer that I hadn’t already read, so I took myself off downstairs to the adults, and they said that if I was going to keep coming down there I might as well have an adult library card.

Absolutely.

Some years on I was back in my original library, finding it more than useful for my university reading list. It wasn’t a university town then, but it still had the books, so with barely any competition for them they ‘were all mine’. More or less.

And that’s really why we need libraries. We can’t always go out and buy books.

Things I’m not doing #2

Like I said last week, Swedes enjoy their cultural events. Monday night for the last few weeks have been events night at Halmstad library. But don’t go and get all excited, because I still haven’t been. At 100 kronor a go, it’s simply too dear, especially once you discover that you aren’t alone, but there are two more people needing admitting. And the added risk, as with last week’s event, is that it gets sold out before you’re even in.

Sandor Slash Ida

This week it was Sara Kadefors, who I’ve heard such a lot about. She wrote a much talked about teen book called Sandor Slash Ida (and that’s not as horrible at is sounds; nothing knife slashy, as far as I know), which I was really tempted to put in front of Son some years ago, since someone suggested it might be easy enough language-wise that he could read a novel in Swedish. But I didn’t, and I haven’t read it myself.

It would have been an ideal opportunity to sit in on some Swedish YA discussion, except it seemed that Sara was meant to talk about an adult book of hers. I don’t know whether it’s simply that you talk about your most recent novel, or if it’s the case that YA writing is too youthful to merit flocks of people handing over their 100 kronor.

But it’s good that the library arranges evenings like this one, and it looked to me as if all four authors listed for this July’s entertainment were big names in the literary world.

Had I been lucid in the last few weeks, I would have found this event in time, and in order to avoid paying for it, I’d have worked out some solution regarding cost and availability. I didn’t and I haven’t.

Halmstad library

Library view through the sun screen

Don’t remember why I didn’t feel a new library in Halmstad was a good idea. I liked the old one, of course, and didn’t want it replaced. But I’m not the one who decides on these things, and that’s lucky. It also seemed somewhat mad to build it hanging out over the river Nissan. But, why not?

Now that it’s been here for a few years I can’t se why I was so negative. It’s almost exactly in the same place as the old one, so there is not even a need to change where you go. It’s beautiful, and large, and lime green. Colour accents only, I hasten to add, before anyone has an allergic colour reaction. Suits me, as I have strayed into lime green as my blog colour.

We used to go to the library to use the public computers, but I always struggled with the unknown PCs. Now Son has started a new trend in taking the baby laptop along and simply using their super fast internet. You do have to be a library member, but a club that will have me in it, should be easy to join.

Chess at Halmstad library

So the other day Daughter and I carried our little toys into town and surfed happily, sitting on comfy limey chairs, with a view over the river. The only slightly disconcerting thing were the seagulls. I could have sworn they were in there, so loud were they. I lifted my eyes up to the ceiling to see if there really were gulls, but I expect it’s a trick of the sound entering somewhere.

They have a café, too. The library, not the seagulls.

Halmstad library toilets

And I apologise for my fascination with toilets, but they are great. And they look nice. (This is a direct message to the unfriendly, toilet-free Stockport library.)

I have yet to attend any of their special events, but I’m sure I would if I lived here all the time.

Ex Libris K B Bjering

This week I enjoyed their exhibitions of book cover art and Ex Libris designs. Being a small town, I knew several of the Ex Libris owners. I could have offered mine if I’d known they were arranging this exhibition.

Do go and have a look if you’re in Halmstad.

The library

Swedes are good at some things and not at others. Very much like most nationalities, except the good and the not so good varies. Fancy looking new public buildings are among the better things.

Probably, anyway. I didn’t feel Halmstad needed a new library. The old one where I went as a child was good enough for me and had a great fifties feel to it. Though most likely it was too small, as they said.

Now there is a new elegant building, which reaches out into the river, with lots of windows. Masses of space. Everything is glass and pale wood and lime green. (What they’ll do when lime green goes out of fashion is anybody’s guess.)

There are plenty of public computers, that don’t always work. There’s a café with a terrace to the park on the side. They have lockers (lime green) and toilets. There’s a reading area with a diverse selection of daily papers.

Halmstads bibliotek

Staff are less plentiful, as they are reasonably paid and, hence, expensive. But those who are there dress well, so are also nice to look at.

Checking books in and out is for the customers to do. Being not terribly good with anything new and technical, I often come to grief with these things. At least it happens in nice surroundings.

I can never work out if all these new beautiful buildings are worth it, considering the money that could have been spent on other things.