“A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life-raft and a festival. They are cathedrals of the mind; hospitals of the soul; theme parks of the imagination. On a cold rainy island, they are the only sheltered public spaces where you are not a consumer, but a citizen instead.”
In 1997 the first Harry Potter book was released, Harry Potter and the philosopher’s stone. The world has not been the same since. The magical world of Harry Potter has become a cultural staple in many countries. Seven books later (and side publications) Harry and his trusted friends continue to enthrall new and returning readers. I remember watching the first Harry Potter movie – it was exactly how I imagined Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the Hogwarts Express, Harry’s cupboard under the stairs… With open mouth I followed their adventures and challenges, cringed when Professor Snipe spoke and realised I’d never be a lauded Quidditch player.
My library in Kawerau harbours some die-hard fans of HP amongst staff. With great enthusiasm they threw themselves in organising a Harry Potter exhibition and fun activities for young and old during June and July. Janice created an impressive collection of potions and wands, dressed up and used her most prized wand to spread her magic amongst customers. Ryk, our word smith, invented the descriptions and labels for each wand and fired up a fierce competition amongst children to win their favourite wand. Susan delved in her HP memorabilia and treasured trip to Harry Potter World in the UK. My offer to build Harry’s house at Privet Drive in Lego during work hours was gratefully accepted (what’s not to like about this job!) and Chris joined me in building a Lego-version of Hogwarts.
A few years ago, for a friend’s 50th birthday, I dressed as ‘Harriette’ Potter. My magical effect was immediate and total: no one recognised me! I may as well have been draped in the invisibility cloak! My companion Dart Vader was as impressive and disguised by heavy breathing.
Globally the Harry Potter stories spurred people to read and instilled in many the power of being transported by stories and the pleasure imagination and stories bring to our lives.
To Harry and all his friends and foes, happy birthday!