It’s quiet and dark in the library. All the books are asleep. The huge tall windows admit orange sodium lighting from the street, but the double glazing cuts out most of the noise of any traffic that passes. We pause to breathe in the silence.
We gained entrance moments ago through a side door, and walked in the calming gloom past the children’s library. Up three steps, and into the echoing high ceilinged main library where the fiction books rest after a long day.
The carpet is hard-wearing but soft underfoot, recovering from the public’s passing. The balcony of the mezzanine above us casts a shadow that drapes us in this place’s serene quiet. The computers are all switched off, the children’s toys put away. This is a library at sleep, and tolerant of us as we walk through its dreams.
Hardly daring to speak, for fear of breaking the magic of the moment, we walk slowly hand in hand among the shelves. We stop and admire some of the books, others we pass by. Our fingertips graze spines and stroke covers, seeing more as our eyes adapt to our surroundings.
We are book lovers, and in this moment that title has never felt more accurate. Hidden treasures and long-lost friends on these shelves gladden the heart and quicken the pulse.
Titles we’ve only heard of compete with newer acquaintances for our attention, and the murmurs of delight from us both threaten to break the silence. We move faster and faster through the library, up and down stairs, in and out of sections, cautious and yet carefree, gathering our favourites, old and new, until we come to the reading area, and settle down in glorious satiation, snuggling and seeking new joys to come as we glow enough to cast our own light.