During the summer, sixth-former Ani Harutiunian has been writer-in-residence at Augustine House, as part of a school work placement. Here is her description of entering the library just before dawn and seeing the books come alive.

Their voices echoed in my head. But where were they? A shiver went down my spine as the flight of stairs loomed above me. Flooded by different emotions, some being fascination others being fear. I scanned my surroundings and saw no welcoming faces, instead my eyes were suffused with darkness. Maybe I shouldn’t have come here. Maybe it wasn’t so safe.

I wrapped my arms around my limp fragile body which was shaking and coaxed myself to calm down. My silence was soon disturbed by whispers, I jerked my head up squinting to see through the reflective glass screens. Unknown figures inched towards me, but my feet sunk further into the floor. 

“Hello?” my voice echoed through the several flights but instead of silence I was greeted with a shuffling of feet from both the stairs and the floors above me. As their faces became clearer my body became more at ease as I noticed their sweet gentle faces. I saw it now, they jumped down from the bookcases and stumbled over, some looking like they had only just found their feet. Some tattered just like the books they had climbed out of, others gleaming constantly searching for new destinations. Figures of all shapes and sizes, some on two feet others on four. The expressions on their faces matching the story which they sprang from.

I found my eyes searching for more intriguing characters to discover, my feet peeling from the floor and being propelled forward. As the light flickered on, the welcoming building lured me in but I had not been seen. I traced their steps but ensured I was not noticed; I was spoilt for choice as all figures seemed to be doing something different. I scuttled forward tracing the books and walls with my fingers, enabling myself to admire the beauty of it all. I watched them going about their activities, mainly staying in their groups but moving with an aim, knowing where they were going and what they wanted to do.

My mind felt at ease, an escape from the real world which I had been searching for months on end, I had finally found it. I felt comforted by the high walls and the numbers of both old and new books waiting to be touched and to share their contents with me.

Image by Mystic Art Design from Pixabay

The library soon began to fill with light as the sun came up, this change caused all the characters to walk back to where they came from. My starting fear became unknown to me and I was filled with feeling of sadness and disappointment. This new adventure I had stepped into had just begun and I was not prepared for it to stop, I jogged forward needing to latch onto them and go with them but then realised they were going in all directions. Where should I go first? I slumped down, the blue carpet covering me like an abandoned sea. I watched them walk away, jumping back into their books, hoping that tomorrow this fairy tale will repeat itself and I will be standing here watching the same performance unfold in front of me.

Ani Harutiunian is a sixth-former at St Anselm’s Catholic School, Canterbury. She is interested in becoming a writer (not a librarian). Her story can be seen as an allegory of the student journey, with the fear experienced by readers on entering the library for the first time being replaced by wonder as they encounter the varied and exciting books on the shelves. The story ends with a desire to return to the library “hoping that tomorrow this fairy tale will repeat itself.”