In the U.K. our libraries are under constant threat of closure.
The ones that survive are having their their opening hours cut, their staff cut and their resources pared to the bone.
If our communities cannot help to save them, they will be gone in a matter of years.
Which would be a terrible shame.
To keep our libraries open, we must use them, and use them regularly and often. We must show how much of a positive force they are in our community. We must show how much they change people’s lives for the better.
We must fight for them.
Schools often work hand in hand with their local library to try and keep the libraries going. Classes are taken on school trips there; librarians come to read stories to the children, or to tell children about holiday activities they can take part in. The library service is a valuable resource for small schools with inadequate funding for new books.
Libraries now provide services other than lending books. Children can:
- Take part in story time, right from pre schoolers through to the end of their primary schooling.
- Use computers for homework, research or whatever they want to do with their time on them.
- Borrow films.
- Borrow music.
- Borrow audio books.
The main purpose of a library however, still remains to lend books to those people who either do not have the room or the money to buy and keep books of their own. With the price of books rising, the joy of being able to borrow the book you want, for free, from a library is one that never dims.
Yes, there are fines to pay when a library book is back late, but those fines, particularly for children, are minimal.
If your library hasn’t got the book you want, they have access to all the other libraries in the county or city you live in, and can order it for you from somewhere else. To do this costs a small amount, but again, much less than buying the book new.
Your library gives you the chance to browse, to look at books that might otherwise never cross your path. It opens your eyes to new authors, new stories, new ideas. It can give you a refuge, even if it’s only because you’ve missed your bus. In those few minutes you might find a book that changes your life forever.
Stuff like this happens in libraries.
Libraries are important.
Libraries are not just on the high street. If you can’t get to your local library as often as you would like with your children, your children’s school library can be just as helpful and inspiring.
If government funded libraries do close down, your school library may be the only resource left for you and your children to borrow books for free.
The Guardian Newspaper started a series in November 2012 where authors talk about the importance of libraries, and how libraries can be a magical place. It’s called ‘Love Your Library’. You can find out about it by clicking on the link here.
The series started with an article by Julia Donaldson, which you can read by clicking on this link.
The latest in the series is by author Alan Gibbons about what makes a great school library. You can read it by clicking on the link here.