Paddington Library - Your stories
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Paddington Library - sparking curiosity for 130 years
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Paddington Library - Your Stories
Library Members and former staff share their memories of Paddington Library and what the library means to them:
The Paddington library to me means community. I have been going to libraries for as long as I can remember, all over the world.
As a small child in the 1950s I spent many hours, along with my brother, sitting on the floor reading. Librarians seemed scary, silence was demanded and everything seemed brown, walls, floor, shelves. None of that mattered because of the books. I can still remember two series that I loved and, I think, gave me my abiding love of history and geography. One series was the “He Went With …”. Marco Polo. Magellan. Columbus. Vasco da Gama etc. The other series was “ The … Twins”. French. Belgian. Russian. Spanish. Italian etc. They were about a boy and a girl caught up in a seminal moment in their country’s history. ( Advanced for their time, the girl was just as audacious, involved and out-going as her brother!).
I have been coming to Paddington Library since I was 12 years old. The library was located around the corner on Oatley St then but still part of the Town Hall. It was divided into 2 sections: kids and adult books. It had huge wooden reading tables and the staff dressed very differently back then - the male staff wore suits and ties and the ladies wore smart dresses or long skirts. My memory of the librarians were that they were very formal, not quite stern but almost. The latest releases where kept in locked glass case and you had to wait for 2 weeks before anyone could borrow them. Paddington Library also had the first public toilets, which at the time was a really big deal.
Miss Hannon changing books at the childrens’ section of the Paddington Branch of the Library [c1950s]. City of Sydney Archives [A-00025100].
I have been using the Woollahra Library Services for the whole of my life. I lived in Vaucluse for many years and used Watsons Bay branch. [When] I moved to the area from Vaucluse, the very first thing I did was to find where the local Library was. Paddington was like a hidden gem, so many great books, resources and characters. That was about 30 years or so ago and I have not looked back. The library was around the corner then (where the Ambulance building is) [Since then] Paddington has been my go to library. Libraries are important and valuable spaces to us all for many varying reasons, Paddington has one of the best collections of books ever all on one floor and with such character. As Mark Twain stated: A public library is the most enduring of memorials, the trustiest monument for the preservation of an event or a name or an affection; for it, and it only, is respected by wars and revolutions, and survives them.
I come [to Paddington Library] because it is peaceful. Sometimes I come as relief from the heat or to get out of the rain! Sometimes I come just to feel part of the human race. Mostly I come because I love books and reading.
The character and ambiance of Paddington keeps me coming back, all other libraries just do not have the same feeling as here. The staff here are amazing, so kind, helpful and fun. Especially when it was during Covid, it was a godsend. The books here are amazing, as are the papers, mags and comps.