It’s National Libraries Day on Saturday 8th February 2014. We need to say again:
- We need libraries.
- Libraries matter.
- Libraries change lives.
- Books change lives.
- Libraries are more than the sum of the books they lend.
- Save our libraries!
- Celebrate our libraries!
We know that books change lives from countless accounts by writers and readers of early immersion in libraries. How many times have you read “I wouldn’t be a reader/writer if I hadn’t spent my childhood in libraries”? Libraries and books open eyes to the world beyond the everyday, beyond the immediate and into new imaginary places and adventures. Neil Gaiman said this more eloquently and powerfully in his lecture: Reading and Obligation. Note that word Obligation. Our society has an obligation to provide libraries.
Libraries are more than the collection of books. They provide other services: loans of DVDs, CDs, access to newspapers, journals, courses, local information, pamphlets, computer time, story-telling, spaces for poetry and writing groups … Libraries have a communitarian function.
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. (Caitlin Moran, The Library Book p92)
The Library Book is published by of The Reading Agency, which works hard to support reading, including libraries. Their strap line is: ‘Because everything changes when we read’. There are 4,200 public libraries in the UK. We must not lose them. And that’s why everyday is Libraries Day.
I have been with my writing group at Totnes Library (a new library, opened less than a year ago – what a treasure!). We had live music outside our meeting room and 15 writers focusing on life writing. Where are you on National Libraries Day?
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