Library book

I’ve started another library book, chosen at random by my friendly librarian from a list which I gave to him a few weeks or so ago.  ‘Just choose me a couple I’ll like’ was my instruction and he came back with ‘El hombre que trasladaba las cuidades’, the man who changed the cities by Carlos Droguett.  It’s lying on my lap with its black cover and a plastic protector ready to be read.  Is it any good?  I don’t know, I’ve only read a few pages so far but I’m excited about it and looking forward to getting down to it.

Something though has piqued my interest and that is the small piece of paper inside the front cover which is stamped every time the book has been borrowed, form L.31 it says on the reverse top left hand corner in true local government fashion.  What is so interesting is that this simple insert tells its own story about the book and its travels and travails around the County.

June 1993 was when the book was first published and between then and now it has been borrowed twelve times including my own, or rather my colleague’s selection.  Six of the dates are paired close to each other and I can only assume that the book was renewed as it is quite long at over four hundred pages.  Twice in 1979 and once in 1994 and so this leaves nine readers in nearly forty years, nine people who have been linked together by a book in Spanish wandering around the Durham library system.

But the borrowings are just a small part of the story.  Between the dates have been stamped names and initials of libraries as the book left one establishment to rest on the shelves of another.  Starting at Darlington it was taken out once in 1977 and then moved to Pelton library, indicated by Pelt in black ink and then PELTON stamped.  Borrowed on a pair of dates in early 1979 it then made its way to Blackhall (stamped) and borrowed again on a pair in late 1979.  After this there is a series of initials written in pencil showing movements between libraries until it’s issued again in November 1991.  HMP, SAC, WILL, HMP again, WW, FRG and CLS.  Some of these I can work out but some are a puzzle.  SAC must be Sacriston, WILL has to be Willington and I think FRG must be Framwellgate but there isn’t a library of that name now.  Was there ever?  I am guessing that CLS is Central Library Services but HMP (Her Majesty’s Prison?) and WW have left me clueless.

Why did the book move seven times from library to library without ever being borrowed?  Was it requested but never taken up, or did the library staff send it on its peregrinations in the hope that it would find a reader?  Has it made its own way, hiding to avoid detection or has it been on its own road trip?  For twelve years it has been sitting on a library shelf or been boxed up in transit, were they twelve years waiting for the touch of a longed for reader?

It pleases me to see that it had a brief flurry of activity between 1994 and 1996 but after that it was back to HMP, a period in storage and eventually delivered to the County Hall library where I have picked it up.    I am not a librarian, just a reader and perhaps there is an explanation for its journey.  It strikes me as strange however, that for nearly forty years in the Durham system  it has rested in nineteen places and been borrowed a dozen times, perhaps its a mystery and someone should write a book about it.

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