Four months ago, my routine was disturbed by yet another transfer at work. I joined a new library and discovered depths of boredom I had never known before. There was barely any customer to serve and endless hours to trudge through with not much to do. Phase one of the refurbishment had been completed and for a few months the library had re-opened its doors only to get ready to shut them again.
So when the time came to lock the doors to the public for the last time it felt good. It meant we would be busy, if only for a few days before we would lose our computers. After that it only took us a couple of days to pack everything in hundreds of boxes. Most of the staff was then sent off to other branches, but not me. I was on duty with another colleague to guard the property and open the doors to the many contractors that came and went for a few hours each day. It left us with a lot of time to kill but I didn’t get bored.
I could relax and lie on the one table left reading Robert Graves autobiography, the desolation of his world reflected in the bare crumbling walls of my surrounding. A pre-war building falling to pieces and about to disappear forever under a twenty-first century facelift.
I swallowed words, and with my colleague we talked and took turn to clean and pack the last remaining bits until one morning I was left alone. The building entirely mine for hours. That day I took my camera with me. I wanted to record the last hours of this entity that had stood so strong for many years. I also wanted to say my goodbyes to this place that had seen me come and go several times, that had seen me at my highest and lowest.
There is a magic to an edifice devoid of people. The space is yours and you can sense the atmosphere beat unperturbed by the presence of other beings. You can stop and listen to the peeling paint falling on the floor, to the air-con last painful breaths. And if you stand still and close your eyes you can let your mind time travel and disappear in the old photographs of the library. I did just that. I meandered through the nooks and crannies of the place, loosing myself in memories and stopping every now and again just to feel the soul of the building. A building that for the first and last time was entirely mine and mine alone.