Although I’m on holiday, I still can’t miss the opportunity to try out a library I haven’t been to before, and so I went to Morrab Library in Penzance to enjoy the inspiring surroundings and get a bit of work done. Morrab Library is in the middle of the beautiful sub-tropical Morrab Gardens, and houses a large collection of books and papers which cover an enormous range – from Penwith local information and records to history, biography, religion and Cornish newspapers (though I did find myself a bit confused by the card catalogue, but the friendly and helpful staff would no doubt have helped me out if I had asked).
It’s used as a lending library by the locals, as well as place to visit to get some work done (and we even saw Kate Adie there). As an independent library (the current chairman is A.N. Wilson; the previous incumbent was John le Carre) what appeals to me about it is the enthusiasm with which it is run and the variety of people it caters to, from the reading locals to family history buffs, from researchers and academics to those who attend its courses on art or Shakespeare. Like all the best libraries, what it provides is a restful and inspiring environment to work in, which makes it well worth a visit if you’re in the area.
I went to a presentation on the soon-to-be-built Information Centre plans for my grandchildren’s school this week. They discussed computers, lighting, seating, teachers etc etc but there was NO mention of books, maps, old newspaper, journals etc etc. Is that what a library will mean to the next generation? 😦
I know, I hear more and more of this, and it is depressing. It’s interesting, though, that the students I teach often talk about “the smell of old books” and “the thrill of seeing manuscripts” etc as a reason why they chose to do English Lit degrees. So I am trying to stay positive that people will remember how important actual books are! Places like the Morrab Library and St Deiniol’s are havens for people like me (and you!) who value books. But it’s certainly true that school libraries are not how I remember them being when I was at school (and that wasn’t *that* long ago!)
I read that you have recently been down in Penzance; did you get the opportunity to visit Penlee House gallery and their latest exhibition “Cornish Childhood”)? In one of your previous articles you mentioned Frank Heath’s “Madonna Lilies” and how much you liked it. There are 4 more Heath paintings in “Cornish Childhood” and I wondered what you thought of these? Perhaps an article on Frank Heath, his versatility and how his style changed over the period of his career 1890s to 1930s could make an interesting research project.
With all good wishes Hugh Bedford
Dear Hugh, thank you for your comment – I did indeed see the “Cornish Childhood” exhibition and liked the Heath paintings there, too. You’re right, his work would make an interesting research project – he is too overlooked, I think. I shall add it to my “potential projects” list! I have had a look at your website, which gives a good introduction to Heath.