Gladstone’s is the kind of place you find yourself counting reasons why it’s amazing. I do it just for the feeling of euphoria I get when I realise that I actually get to live here, in a place that could be lifted straight out of Harry Potter.
Today I reached Reason 37: I’m holding in my hands a book that’s 200 years old, and if it was anywhere else, I might well be wearing white gloves and trying not to breathe for the fear that a deep gust from my chest could irrevocably ruin the pages. Here, the books have been cherished, and the fact that so many people benefit from them keeps them alive. Nothing beats the opportunity to handle books like this on a daily basis.
Despite working in a silent library, a big part of my day is talking to people. As well as maintaining the collections we have here, and cataloguing new ones, I also get to interact with the public, working on Reception and sitting at the Enquiry Desk. The best part of a day in the Library, for me, has to be the Glimpse tours. At least once in my afternoon, I get to show a group of people exactly what is behind those big wooden doors; the look of awe on someone’s face when they walk in for the first time really does make my day. However, as amazing as the building is, it’s the people you find here; employees, residents and day guests alike, who make you feel like you’d be at home anywhere with them.
Gladstone’s is not just the place in which I have biggest bedroom I have ever slept in and am happy to forgo my lie-ins for; or the place where, incidentally, I can get the best home-made croissants for breakfast, to make up for the early alarm call. As a postgraduate student studying the nineteenth-century and its literature, it’s not just that I’m living in the same magnificent building where so many important treasures also nestle, it’s the fact that very quickly, Gladstone’s has become home.
At Gladstone’s, we don’t call our Library a ‘hotel’, we call it a ‘residence’. Coming here as a guest, I didn’t quite understand that at first. I’ve been here working as an Intern for three weeks now, yet it only took me three days to feel like I never wanted to leave. It helps that the sofas in the Gladstone Room sink you into a deep state of relaxation after a long day, and that there’s not one room in this place that’s not inviting. However, as amazing as the building is, it is the people that make all the difference. The truly amazing thing is how after just three days, I felt like I’d known these people for months and years. Gladstone’s is the type of place where when you visit, you not only take a piece of it with you, but leave a piece of yourself too.