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Beckoning all Bookworms

Who said a tangle of cables couldn't be a central feature?

Imagine my excitement to be told the first place I could walk to alone as a child was the local library! Look, if you didn't regularly stand entranced by the librarian's pen-scanner-date-stamp thing, then you might be on the wrong blog. Sorry. I honestly thought that thing was a magic wand with its red light where normal muggles would have a smeary nib, and in one swift tilt the book's label could be swiped and a slightly skewed inky date marked in the semi-threatening 'return by' column above. The speed at which books could be checked out and passed over the magnetic strip was insane. It was like watching Italian grandmas knock out a few thousand orecchiette over the course of 5 minutes. Whilst also doing the laundry. Wow.

We're lucky to have so many libraries to explore and get lost in. They are an Aladdin's cave of adventure, escapism, history, emotion and culture. You'll often find me in Acomb library texting my friends for book recommendations and sending pictures with "how about this?" or excitedly following the alphabetised shelves like a gormless Hamelin rat to look for the next book by my author de moment. And that got me thinking. We access a huge amount of information online (York library's online catalogue is brilliant to search and make reservations - and by that, yes of course I mean I use it chiefly to avoid fines by repeatedly renewing on the final day, often too late), but there's something about curling up with an actual book in your hand and a massive marmitey bagel teetering precariously on your knees. Whilst we are constantly balancing this with the drive to go paperless, I'm aware that many of my patients can't or don't use the internet. And recently I met the very inspirational Anya de Iongh, an occupational therapist who was talking about empowerment; giving patients the tools to understand their bodies, and make informed choices. So we need to make these tools widely available. We regularly signpost to information sheets and websites for help with e.g. improving your fitness, healthier eating, help with mindfulness, local community groups, and how to look after yourself during the menopause (to name a few), and it's important we also consider people who have different access requirements. Hence our little 'Living Well' library idea was born!

So, how to get around the issue of paper's carbon footprint? Well fear not, friends; we have done our best to ensure we have reused and recycled. Yup, it was important to us that all the books were pre-loved or donations, so I spent a very happy afternoon scouring the charity shops of York for anything that looked like it might be of benefit to any keen readers. Obviously my eyes were bigger than my bookish-belly, and I bought way more than I could carry. Oops! Thank to the lovely staff at the British Heart Foundation shop who held a large pile of books behind the counter so I could continue my tome-trawl, and the staff at the Oxfam Bookshop who laughed incredulously at me, then sold me a bag for life. I half-struggled home using my bike as a (non-drugs) mule, then spread out all the books and sheepishly sent our brilliant and long-suffering Practice Manager a picture of them in my usual hopeful "Hi Andrea, guess what I've come up with this time...?" manner.

It's been a big green light since then! Using a bookcase that was very kindly donated by some friends, artwork from my junior editor, some brilliant DIY bookend covers from Alexandria Library, a few plants and some colourful signage made from recycled pharmaceutical boxes, we have created something really cheerful and informative to keep patients occupied while they wait for their prescriptions or appointment. There's hand sanitiser nearby so we're doing our best to make this possible even whilst other infection-control measures remain in place in the Surgery. Yesterday Delia (Dispensary), Clare (Reception) and I arranged the books and made the signs before we opened at 8am. Well done us! The idea is that you can browse or borrow. It's very relaxed; there’s no need to sign a book out, or leave contact details. You can even swap a book for one you’ve finished with at home that you think might really help someone else. And if our shelves look a little bare in the picture above it's because we’re only just starting out, so we’d be grateful for donations!

For those of you who are itching to play along at home, check out this little library stamp kit, or this DIY library. Or if you’re here in York, pop into Give The Dog A Bone where you can buy one without the extra postal packaging. Oh and see your friendly GP about the itch!

If you have any books that you no longer need but might be helpful for someone else, please contact me or drop them off at the Surgery. Or see if your own Practice would like them? But really, me first. Ahem. Thank you!

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