So many reasons to love the public library. I can narrate long chunks of my life through them.
- My mum took me to the library and joined me up when I was 3 years old. We went there together every single week (and sometimes more than that) and swapped books. There was no money for books at home in those days, but I had a constant supply of new ones. What luxury! No wonder I learned to love books and to read at an early age (well before I started school).
- The library gave me my first taste of the world of work. For a couple of years when I was at secondary school (Y8 and Y9) I used to go to the library every Saturday as a volunteer. I sorted and shelved books, and did other small tasks. I soaked up the smell and the atmosphere of the library. I felt at home.
- One of the secondary schools I went to (Y9) was directly opposite a small branch library. I went there almost every school day, borrowed a book, read it that evening, took it back the next day and changed it. More luxury! and some very eclectic choices – a heady and wide ranging mix of fiction and non-fiction including detective stories, historical fiction, science fiction, social history, biography, history. A whole world at my fingertips.
- A lifetime of access to new books, with no penalty for borrowing something and then realising it was disappointing, or not what I’d thought it was going to be, or just dull.
- No waste, no unnecessary acquisition of books to sit on a shelf and gather dust. Everything gets used by others. If I really really (really!) love it, I can go out and buy a copy to have at home. Otherwise not.
- In my last few years at work I was based in a newly refurbished Council office with a brand new, wonderfully stocked, wonderfully staffed public library. Heaven or what?! I popped in several times a week to swap books.
- Now that I’m at home more I have rediscovered my local public library. Not only does it have loads of books to borrow, but recently I discovered that membership also entitles me to pop into libraries in a much wider area (CUBA – not the one half a world away, the Counties that Used to Be Avon) and borrow their books too. Wow!
Thanks for my (our) libraries. Thanks for public services. Thanks for public servants.