In my book, one of the characters, at one point, cries ‘To the library!’. It is, she admits, a not very stirring war cry, but it is a far more useful one.
When I was a child, there was no library where I lived. There was a shelf of books in my local school (which I read three times through) and then, as the schools got bigger, the school libraries got bigger – but they were very restricted. The fiction section was mostly Judy Blume (who I did, and do love) but no classics. No Dickens, Bronte, Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson. The closest I got to a classic book was a child’s version of Mrs Gaskell’s Life of Charlotte Bronte. We were given a few classic novels in English, but they were chosen for us. I ached to read the other books I’d heard of, but could never find them.
Then we moved. I walked into my new town, and there, joy of joys, was a library.
It was small. It was shabby. But it was heaven.
I walked in and found my world. So many books, so many subjects, so much to read even I could never get through it all. I devoured that place. I discovered Sherlock Holmes my first day. I went on to the other Brontes, and D. H. Lawrence (I remember being amazed that I was allowed to borrow Lady Chatterley’s Lover) and so many biographies and ghost stories and trashy enjoyable novels and great classics.
Since then, I have spent hours and days in libraries. However, in my country the government are doing its best to close as many libraries as possible. In a world where money is all, they see libraries as ‘non-profitable’ and therefore worthless. Once we were proud of the fact that anyone, anywhere could go to a library and borrow a book. Now the government’s attitude is ‘well, everyone has a e-reader, don’t they?’
Once the libraries are gone, they are gone forever. The books dispersed, the building turned into offices, the learning and knowledge and skills of the people who worked there gone to waste. So please, use your libraries. Save your libraries. They are where tomorrow’s readers and writers first learn how wonderful a book is