In the UK, we have a huge budget deficit; the coalition government have decided to tackle it and public spending is being reduced. Local authorities have to choose where to spend the money they have, and currently a number of them are planning to close libraries.
Save Our Library Day has just finished and it made me think about how I use libraries.
As a youngster, as a teenager, and into my twenties, I used libraries a lot. Somewhere quiet to study, somewhere to get hold of books to read for relaxation or for reference. In my thirties, as the father of young children, I took my children to the library, so they learnt about the wonderful world of books, and they could choose books that at first I would read to them, later read with them – and eventually that they would read themselves.
What’s changed for me? Well, for reference, the internet makes research and finding reviews much easier. I can read fiction and comment in blogs from around the world.
Most of the books I read now are those in which my my interest has been piqued by hearing others discuss it. Yes, OK, the internet is the biggest book club in the world. Now, I can get that book by going to the library and seeing if it is in; my local library, is lovely, but small, and open 4 sessions a week maximum. The other thing I can do is got to my Amazon account, and have the book delivered the following day.
If I overcome my distrust of the technology and the DRM issues, I could have it delivered to a Kindle in minutes. Why would I need a library?
But, of course, that’s not the point. It was a library that formed my life long habit of reading, reinforced by my parent’s book-filled household. [They took me to the library, too]. It was going to the library that helped my children form a reading habit, and learn the joys of reading. If libraries aren’t there for others, how will they get that experience, and learn that reading is for everyone.
I’m fortunate in that I can buy pretty well any books I want; I wasn’t always so fortunate, and as a student, and in initial low paid roles, I could always find books to read and learn from for nothing.
I won’t miss a library for myself.
I’d miss libraries for the damage their loss could cause to the lives of hundreds of thousands of people yet to come. I’d rather pay more local council tax than lose my library – even if I don’t use it.
How will you miss libraries?
Image Credit: lisabatty – and no, the British Library isn’t at risk, it’s just a lovely image of a library