The response in the Guardian to the open letter to the Hulture Minister – organised by Alan Gibbons – back in early December almost came as a shock. Quite a few people were saying they don’t like libraries. They were suggesting they were unnecessary.
I suppose it’s refreshing that not everyone nods wisely, saying that of course they agree with the campaign. Though if you read all the comments it’s clear that there is a lot of support for our libraries. And the comments show that we are now fighting for something that is important. Once lost it won’t come back.
To kick off a few blog posts about libraries I’ll tell you about my first one, because at the moment I can’t get to my most recent library. And that’s not the library’s fault. (Well, it is in a way, because if it was next door to me it would be so easy to get there.) I’ll try to pop in and take a photo for a later post about it. Unless photography isn’t allowed. You never know these days.
Several authors have blogged about their own libraries from childhood onwards. I can’t match their fervour, but I did like my library. So much so, that I was seriously annoyed when they built a new and even better replacement a few years ago.
Mother-of-witch took me to get a library card when I was six, which was officially too early but they allowed it as I could read. From then on I went into town on my own for the next six years, walking to begin with and then cycling. I didn’t read every book in that library, but at times it felt like it.
We moved to another town when I was twelve, but the children’s department in the new library had little to offer that I hadn’t already read, so I took myself off downstairs to the adults, and they said that if I was going to keep coming down there I might as well have an adult library card.
Some years on I was back in my original library, finding it more than useful for my university reading list. It wasn’t a university town then, but it still had the books, so with barely any competition for them they ‘were all mine’. More or less.
And that’s really why we need libraries. We can’t always go out and buy books.