I have always loved reading…. and libraries, even though I (like every other child I knew) was terrified of Miss Andrews, elderly custodian of the Lady Clark Children’s Library in my Tasmanian home town of Ulverstone. The Library was one of many established in memory of Lady Clark, wife of Governor Ernest Clark, and highly accomplished in her own right.
ULVERSTONE -MEMORIAL LIBRARY – The librarian at the local Lady Clark Memorial Children’s Library (Miss H. F. Andrews) said yesterday there were increasing demands by children for books. The total issued during the 12 months to July 21 was 8640, which represented an increase in the previous year’s of 2000. During the past month the daily average of issues has been 75. In addition to the issues from the Ulverstone Library, several hundred books were lent to country schools in the municipality. The winter months were the most popular for reading by children, and the month of least reading was January. (Advocate, Aug 1 1950. Yes, well of course we were all at the Ulverstone beach in January. 😍
Once I lost Marmalade the Cat and Miss Andrews sent an overdue notice to my parents. Oh good heavens, it was a dreadful worry; worse than losing my school jumper. The book eventually turned up under my bed, covered in fluff. I can’t remember whether I ever found the jumper.
At least I was never guilty of wilful damage, as it appears some Ulverstone children were!
Miss Andrews, whose first name was Helen, was very much involved in the community. She appears on the right in the following photo, dressed as Lady Bracknell for a local production of Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest. Wow, this is just as I remember her at the library.
Eventually I worked in libraries myself. Oddly enough, I even spent a year or so as Children’s Librarian at Ulverstone, where I was a pale shadow of Miss Andrews! No-one appeared to be the slightest bit frightened of me. When I told certain children they had to pay a fine they would say: ‘Try and make me!’ and saunter off. Afterwards I would discover terrible words scribbled in the pages. But there were lovely little kids too, who made it all worthwhile and who loved The Giant Jam Sandwich as much as I thought they should.
Our home was always full of books. In addition to those issued by Miss Andrews there were many of our own; Little Golden Books, countless stories by Enid Blyton then on to Dickens and other classics of children’s literature.
My mother often read to us, too….what utter bliss. Generations of children have enjoyed this pleasure, so let’s hope it continues.
Both my parents were both avid readers, and we naturally followed their lead;
To be honest, I wanted to write this piece just so I could share the following creation by the miniaturist Kiva Atkinson;
And finally, here is a message from Miss Andrews herself, now issuing books and overdue notices in that great library in the sky. A couple of my own books are in libraries these days, so I appreciate her warning;
‘EXCUSE ME….PLEASE DO NOT SCRIBBLE OR DRAW RUDE PICTURE IN LIBRARY BOOKS, EVEN IF THE AUTHOR IS PAULINE CONOLLY‘, WHO FAILED TO RETURN THE MARMALADE CAT ON TIME.
DO LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW AND LET ME KNOW WHAT YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK WAS WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD.
NOTE – THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY INTRODUCED BY MY ASSOCIATE, EDITOR DES, HENCE THE REFERENCES TO HIM IN THE COMMENTS BELOW. DES IS NOT REALLY A READER, ALTHOUGH TO HIS CREDIT HE IS TRYING TO LEARN FRENCH.