And the best anecdote I've heard from staff is about what they need to lock away in the strong rooms each night. Obviously the library has priceless treasures, like Captain Cook's diary, which stay there all the time. But it is also a copyright library, and as such, contains a copy of every publication of everything in the country, ever. Well, nearly. Each night they lock up the magazines that are most regularly stolen. Hilariously, this comprises: porn magazines, magazines about cake baking and magazines about cat grooming. Well, Canberra has its quirks, ladies and gentlemen.
Yup. Safe to say I love that library. Well, I have a thing about books generally, and especially old books, so it was always going to be love....
I've spent hours in the cafe there, eating their muffins and coaxing a thesis out of my laptop while kaleidoscopes of coloured light from the funky stained-glass windows spilled down on the white marble of the foyer. A high-ceilinged foyer that I sometimes wanted to test the acoustic of. Well, well, well.
It was as good as I'd hoped. And there was some crying. Not by me, by the audience. But in a good way. Not because I hurt them or anything.
Afterwards the guests were served with champagne as we all had a 'private' viewing (90 people in one room is not private) of the exhibition itself. I may have been slightly overwrought from an hour of German poetry, but I just wanted to lie down on the ground and stay there and never leave the room. There was an ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT of Dante's The Divine Comedy from 1347!!! So. Much. Awesome.
Probably the most poignant moment, though, was standing in front of the scores for Act II and III of Mozart's "Le Nozze di Figaro", which has been such a massive part of my life for the last year, having done 40 performances of it in five different states. Because I was one of the two people in the room whom everyone seemed to be quite pleased with at that point, I went ahead and put my grubby little paws on the protective case, smearing my longing, fingerprinty wonder all over the glass. And the only words in my head were, "Thank you". (OK now I think about it, "Whoah" probably crept in there too.)
For more information on the exhibition, please go to http://www.nla.gov.au/exhibitions/handwritten