I'm in Liverpool today, thanks to various tedious reasons to do with getting a passport for my daughter to be able to come with me on a conference trip to Bulgaria next week. Her application had been sitting in the Liverpool passport office for a few weeks without being processed, and it worked out that the only practical way of ensuring that it was in my hands in time for the trip was to come up here today. I came up last night and stayed in a hotel overnight, so as to be able to go to the passport office when it opened at 8am. Fortunately, it all seemed to go okay there, and I should be able to pick the passport up this afternoon.
Being in such a fine city as Liverpool means that I can go to its wonderful Central Library - refurbished at a time when such spaces are being closed down elsewhere. I got there a little before 9, and there were a group of people waiting outside for it to open. Once inside, I wandered round it a bit, went to its cafe for a cup of coffee then settled in to one of the reading rooms in the old part of the library. The picture attached to the post is taken from where I sat to work.
It's heartening to see that not only are there parts of the country where community facilities are retained, but that the library is so well-used, with what seems to be to be quite a cross-section of people; people engaging in scholarship, like me, and what appear to be college-age students; people coming to study the Financial Times; many people sat at the computers; tourists walking round with cameras; people coming to indulge a hobby; a group of disabled women come to hang out in the cafe together; and who knows for what other reasons (I didn't actually interrogate anyone about their reasons for coming).
It might seem an unnecessary extravagance to some to pay for libraries these days. I would have been fine without it, as I'd have been able to get in to one of Liverpool's University libraries, but with poverty getting worse, society more divided, and study-space at home at a premium for many, I am very happy to see such a wonderful library thriving, and paid for by me and the rest of the taxpayers.