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Inverness 'nomad writer' Barbara Henderson is delighted to return to one of her favourite places to work – the city library

By Barbara Henderson

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Ahh, summer!

I love a bit of sunshine, wispy clouds above.

Everyone else around me seems to slow down right now, but my brain is in overdrive.

This is what I’ve been waiting for! A clear run at my writing projects with no teaching constraints.

To that effect I did something that I haven’t done for over a year – return to my local library.

It was late in the day, and I clutched the single volume which had been due in the early spring of 2020, its stamp accusing me silently from the page.

With a deep breath, I ducked between the pillars and stepped through the familiar door.

I blinked in the transition from bright sunlight to the cool shade of the reception. It was a little unsettling at first: I was barely through the entrance when I was asked to complete my contact details on a form.

That done, I approached the desk. The friendly librarian held out her hand: “No, not at the desk – returned books just go into those boxes there.”

I retraced my steps and slid my overdue volume under the pile. The usual path to the lending section was closed off, but the clear signposting of the one-way system meant I felt utterly safe as I made my way to the shelves.

Granted, some of the sections weren’t exactly where I remembered them, but the relief was palpable: this was still my library, a writer’s greatest ally.

There are few places like libraries left. Somewhere you can linger as long as you like, with equitable access to resources and absolutely no agenda to extract more money from your pocket. I love libraries.

When my book search failed to strike gold, I approached the help desk once more.

A second obliging librarian scanned through the catalogue and eventually decided to look in the reference section.

Bingo – not only did she find precisely the book I needed, but she also asked permission to lend it to me. I was able to walk out with what I had come for.

Barbara is glad to return to Inverness Library, Farraline Park. Picture: Gary Anthony
Barbara is glad to return to Inverness Library, Farraline Park. Picture: Gary Anthony

By preference, I am a nomad writer – pre-pandemic I loved to write in cafes, Eden Court, and best of all, in the reference section of the library.

“Shame I can’t work here as I used to,” was my parting shot as I slung my bag over my shoulder.

“But you can!”

The librarian explained booking for desk space and computers.

I could have whooped! Yes, things are a little different, but my library is back.

Mark my words, it won’t be long before you’ll spot me there, most likely under a teetering pile of notes. If you do, I’ll be in my happy place.

Ablekids Press owner and author Pauline Mackay. Picture: Gary Anthony
Ablekids Press owner and author Pauline Mackay. Picture: Gary Anthony

Look out for: Local children’s author Pauline Mackay has a new activity sticker book and trail (from Ablekids Press shop, Market Brae Steps, £6.99).

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