Libraries have long been about more than books.
In 1992 Helen* wrote to the staff of Upperthorpe Library in Sheffield about one of their activities, a group called the Tuesday Club. She described herself as a ‘great library visitor’ who felt ‘comfortable and at home’ there, and was writing to say how much she appreciated what the club had to offer her.
Helen said that she was ‘not by nature a joiner’. She had expected to ‘go once or twice and then drop it’. But she had become a regular, finding that the club ‘filled a need’ that she hadn’t realised she felt – that is, ‘to meet new people’.
Helen enjoyed the chance to learn new things that the club gave her. She remembered talks about the war years, transport and Sheffield cinemas.
I love knowing things and have learned a lot which I pass on to my friends and daughter.
But Helen also enjoyed the way the club brought people together and gave them the chance to talk and share on an equal basis. The meetings were:
living history, related by the ordinary people who experienced it, and not told years later in the context of great events and important people.
‘We can talk,’ she wrote, ‘and be sure that we are being listened to, which doesn’t happen so often as you grow older.’
Helen concluded her letter:
I can’t say the Tuesday Club has changed me into a different person, but it has certainly broadened my outlook and made me friendlier.
* Not her real name. We have not been able to trace the writer of the letter, but would be happy to acknowledge her, if she were to come forward.