Sunday, 18 October 2009

Aren't Libraries Lovely?

I get a very handy little newsletter from the National Literacy Trust, with breaking news on all sorts of stuff to do with books and reading, and I thought I'd share this tit-bit about libraries with you:

Did you know that, from now on, we can borrow books from any UK public library, regardless of where we live?

All we need to do is show our normal library card, or even just proof of address, to access any library in the country. Great for your holiday reading (unless you're sunning yourself in the Maldives or somewhere, in which case, you're already far too fortunate to deserve any more good news).

Apparently, ministers are also planning home deliveries, where you wouldn't go into the library at all. It would work like online film renting: you would order your books online, they would be delivered by post, and you'd return them in a prepaid envelope when you were finished.

But I'm not at all sure this last is a good thing. Surely the cost of all that postage could only be managed if many libraries were closed?

Wonderful though book-lending is, libraries are about so much more. They are a community space: often the only free, safe environment available to local people. They provide storytelling for young families; a place for the elderly to read the paper, maybe learn how to access a computer and chat to someone about the books they've read (or just the weather!). They are a centre for disseminating local information; a creative environment for inspiring school groups; a quiet place for studying, or doing homework; and sometimes they are just a positive, friendly place for people to hang out.

If you're in the Library Service, I'd be interested to hear your take on things...


Caryl said...

I completely agree.
My experience of running children's workshops in libraries, is that many kids in less affluent areas come to the libraries on their own. Libraries provide a calm, warm, friendly sanctuary for these children. A place where they can relax and learn and explore. I would hate to see that change to a lonely online experience.

Julie Broom said...

I have lots of lovely memories of my weekly visits to the library from a very young age. Touching the books and flipping through the pictures before carefully choosing the one special enough to take home, the little drawing competitions, being excited about my next visit, the joy of discovering a new author, the list goes on and on. I think this is the number one way to encourage kids to enjoy reading and It would be a huge loss if even one library was closed down.

Victoria said...

Hi, I work p/t in a council library and unfortunately they are all under threat! They are wonderful places full of information, excitement & fun - no more "Shush" either! Libraries exist on the basis of funding & book issues ... so the more people you can get through the door the better as they are 'likely' to pick up something to take home. But its not just books we have plenty of other things to offer .. cd's; story tapes; pc's etc etc. We do already to a home library service for those in the community who cant manage to get to a library. As with all things the faces of libraries will be changing and possibly we wont know until the changes are made if these are for the better. We do have plenty of child friendly activities and would love more illustrators / authors to come into our library to promote what we do ...

Lynne Chapman said...

So true Victoria. It is tragic that libraries should be under threat - we need them now more than ever!

On your last point: I am always interested to hear from any library who wants to organise a visit. Just email me!