I hope I can get this blog post written and posted before my internet dongle decides to disconnect again. I'm currently staying at a relation's house while they do the finishing touches to the house.
Today is Save Libraries day. Across the UK, local councils are going to be making cuts to help bring down the deficit. Libraries are on the line. Which doesn't make sense because they want to bring back strong communities and that's what libraries provide.
To me, my local library was played a vital part in my childhood. Books are expensive things, especially to a family with only one parent working and another at home, bringing up two children and then the working parent losing their job, thanks to the previous Tory government.
I read my way through the Dr Seuss books, through a huge book of fairy tales and picture books. I once lost my bookmark and then found it in their 'lost bookmark' box and was so happy that day. I then re-borrowed a book that I had from a previous trip and found another one of my bookmarks. That's why I like collecting bookmarks but don't like using them as I have a habit of mis-placing them.
Then we moved and our new local library had two floors! Kids, top floor. Adults, bottom floor. There, I graduated from Roald Dahl to Judy Blume, Goosebumps, Point Horror and The Saddle Back Books. I read books on crafts, books on natural disasters, books on aliens, books on weather, books on being a journalist too. I joined the Summer Reading Challenge with my sister and we would have to give mini reviews of each book we read to the Librarian so we could get stickers to add to our charts and then get certificates.
When my Sainsburys' encyclopedia wasn't up for the job of helping me with homework then I would count on the library. In the late 1990s a computer went into the corner. Wow a computer. Our family couldn’t afford one at that moment. The Encarta CD-ROM was my second option after ploughing through books for research. After some research, I would head straight on the games on the CD-ROM. There was one where you had to use the articles to find your way around the maze and free some one from a castle. I loved that game. It was a sad day when the library upgraded their CD-ROM collection and the newer version didn’t have the game anymore.
I discovered all of my favourite authors at the library. My first Margaret Atwood book happened the summer I left school. My library was really good for having strong backlists of any author. If they didn’t have it then they would order it from another library in the county. All though for some reason, the Librarian would always say that Luton was out of bounds for ordering but any other library in Bedfordshire would be able to send it.
I also helped my Dad with some family history once. One of his relations had a family tree that showed a distant relation who lived in the town we had recently moved to. Using the micro-fiche we tracked down the ‘mystery man’ and his relations via the census to find out that he was an umbrella maker and also spent some time in the local poor house.
Plus the library was where I had my first Internet experience. ‘You mean you type in a word and it finds it?’ Incredible.
Even when I started working at the bookshop, I didn’t stop going to the library. I would make a note of books and then order them at the library. My family over the years has also rented lots of CDs, VHS and DVDS from the library too.
I strongly believe libraries need to be saved. They are a great place to teach your child to read, a place to show them the ‘world’ isn’t all digital, a place to meet others especially if you go the story time, author events or a local reading event. It can provide you with some quiet time, a place to escape bullies or even a place to read newspapers. They even do large print books, audio books and talking newspapers
A library is so much more than a building.
Please, please don’t shut libraries.