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Archive for February, 2011

“Sssshhh”. The library; a place of quiet contentment, of reflection. Memories of my local library lie close to my heart…all of them from my childhood. Monday afternoons were made for book club; where I made lovely Christmas decorations, discovered Jacqueline Wilson and terrified myself with the latest Goosebumps instalment. Thursday afternoons were spent waiting for Mum to finish work. Quite happily I’d sit down on a slightly too small for me seat and read away only briefly looking up to check the giant Aslan cuddly toy hadn’t moved from his position of chief book monitor! Sometimes I’d look up, watch the world go by and watch the librarians do their jobs in suspicious silence.

As I grew up and started studying for my GCSE’s, the library became less a place of pleasure, more a place of tearing my hair out as I worked my way through Single Science Physics. But my studies were always achieved witha  level of serenity and support as the library unconsciously provided me with everything I needed; a calm environment, space and resources.

Without realising it my library took me through my childhood and beyond. I’ve always maintained that books define us and that our best memories lie hand in hand with our reading experiences.

That a book can evoke such fond feelings of nostalgia is beyond magical, it’s integral to our understanding of life. Where would we be without books? Where would the writers of these books be without the books they learnt from? Where would I be had I not had a library to use? A little lonelier, a little more isolated and a lot less interested in the world. Books give us a passion for learning more and for challenging everything. You know when a child asks a question, you give them the answer and they respond with ‘But why?’ It’s their thirst for learning about this incredible, vast world that is awakened and it needs quenching. We might not always have the answers to their questions, but I can pretty much guarantee a book does.

Why…why in a time where we despair of economic decline, job losses and world terror are we denying the future something so wonderfully basic and yet so ferociously important? It makes me feel so sad that these books and this space in which to learn from them is being taken away. How blindly obvious is it that we must invest in everything that is wonderful about this world, and that is the potential we have as human beings to be extraordinary. But we can only be this through knowledge, love and encouragement. By closing down libraries, we are denying the future all three. We are demonstrating that it’s OK to let something so important to our lives rot and decay, that it’s OK no longer love something so treasured in our society and that it’s OK not to encourage someone. …IT IS NOT OK.

We all need encouragement and the library is a communal place for this saying ‘Hey come on in, it’s ok. If you can’t read, we have spoken word for you; if you can’t see very well, we have large print for you; if you have read every single book ever written we have Crime and Punishment for you.’

It seems our universal pleas have been falling on deaf ears but SAVE A LIBRARY DAY was an incredible success. We celebrated books, authors, readers and illustrators and the talent this country has to offer. #savelibraries is a continual trend on Twitter thanks to the esteemed Mar Dixon. The Bookseller continues its campaign to keep our libraries open and bookshops everywhere are joining the fight. Whilst closures are still being announced this week, and don’t get me wrong it is heartbreaking; we can rest assured that whatever happens we all share one thing in common. We love books and this sense of community that this threat has created is truly wonderful and a power to be reckoned with.

If we save the libraries, we might not save the world but it gives us a much better chance of knowing how. Besides, I still need to loan out that book on the Mayan Prophecy! Get to the library, spread the word and ask your librarian what you can do to help. It’s the least we can do, they taught us the dewey decimal system.

To the government who want to close these libraries. Yes we are a tad in debt, but you really are going about it the wrong way. Stop thinking about numbers and now and start thinking about opportunities and a positive future, something which seems a lot less attainable without our libraries. Listen to the people, listen to us and listen to me who say please don’t shut our libraries. Want to be a big society? Start acting like one and learn from the best society there is; our communal library.

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