Brixton Library is a hugely popular and much-loved building, aiding the various needs of a demanding and diverse public. I arranged to meet librarian Marie Ayoola, who’s been working in the library service for eight years, on a Monday morning before the library opened to the public, to get an insight into her time there.
What’s the best aspect of your job?
Often the most challenging aspect, dealing with customers. I absolutely love talking to people, finding out about their reading, what they enjoy and impacting them in small little ways. That for me is the beauty of it. Picking what your section is going to be like, the type of books that people are going to read is a great joy, but for me it’s more the connecting with people. And also being able to connect with authors as well. That’s why I love fiction. Fiction has always been my thing.
How did you start off in the library?
When I was going off to uni, I started spending a lot of time in the library and made a very good friend with one of the librarians. I’ve always loved reading. Eventually this job came up and my mum encouraged me to apply. I went for an interview in West Norwood library and I got the job, and thought I’d be based at West Norwood. Brixton’s the first ever library I went to, so when I found out I was going to be working in Brixton, my mum said it was fate. This is where I’m meant to be.
What’s your earliest memory of using a library?
I was 12. In school one of the girls had a book from Brixton Library, one of those teen series about twins. I wanted to get a copy so I asked my mum but she didn’t want me going to Brixton on my own, so she forced my older brother to go with me. They signed me up then and there and I got my first library book and I was hooked.
Do you take part in any reading groups at the library?
I have two reading groups, ‘Brixton fiction’ reading group and the ‘chick lit’ reading group, and they’re very different. The ‘Brixton fiction’ group is quite literary. Because of them I ended up reading ‘How to be Brave’ by Louise Beech. For me, chick lit is not a genre in and of itself. Chick lit can be any book that’s written by a woman about women’s issues and what they’re going through. ‘Brixton fiction’ group meets on the first Tuesday of the month at 7.00. The chick lit group meets on the third Thursday of the month. I love both groups very differently.
You have a blog as well?
Yeah, I have a Facebook page. I write up reviews. Because of that, we met Stella Duffy, and because of Stella Duffy, I ended up doing the first ever women’s event with an author panel at Brixton Library. It had Sophie Kinsella, Ali Smith and Alice Jewle. It’s become my thing. At least three of four times during the year, I’ll run something called, ‘The Girls Night In’ event.
What’s the most read book in the library at the moment?
‘How to be Both’ by Ali Smith, which I find surprising because it’s been out for a while. I’ve had two copies in the library and I’ve had to re-buy one recently because it’s missing. You can always tell when a book is a favourite among readers when it goes missing for months on end.
Is there a book you think should be made into a film?
‘The Last Days of Rabbit Haze’ by Ann McPartland. It’s a book that you fall into and can’t get out of; sad, funny and poignant. Essentially about a family and the impact of someone dying; a woman, Rabbit Haze, who’s in her 30’s and in a hospice dying of cancer. Kate Beckinsale or Rosamund Pike could play Rabbit Haze.