Saturday, 22 October 2011
I think that regular readers to this blog know that I work in a library.
In fact I work in (currently) the busiest library in the country - in the last year that we have figures for 1,502 449 people came through our doors.
Every morning there are people waiting outside the doors to come in.
These are people from all walks of life, some come in for advice, others for books, some to use the computers and others for the regular training or story sessions that we run. The one thing I know is that we are busy from the moment we open at 9am until the minute we shut the doors at 8pm.
I'm lucky, I work for a council that sees the value of libraries - unlike many areas around the country.
Just this week the author Nicholas Rankin gave a talk here in Norwich, he started it by saying that he'd spent nights this week camping outside his local library to stop it being shut. There is currently a legal challenge in progress trying to save his library - Kensal Rise - which was ironically closed 111 years to the day since it was opened by Mark Twain.
It isn't just authors and celebrities that are trying to save local libraries whole families are standing vigil trying to save these precious resources.
Just today figures were released showing just how many children joined the Summer Reading Challenge in 2011. This is an annual game that is run through libraries during the summer holidays. Children are encouraged to read six books during the holiday and are rewarded throughout and then on completing the challenge come to special ceremonies where they receive a certificate and medal. This challenge has been proven to help participants with their school work in many ways.
Libraries are important for so many reasons - personal and national - which is why articles like this one in the Telegraph make me so angry. Happily it seems that most people agree with me and not the author and the Twitter and Blogosphere are full of examples showing just how wrong this article is.
However our libraries are under threat so please if you are reading this and you don't usually visit a library please find your local branch and borrow a book or two. They might be there at the moment but once they are closed I can't see that they will be reopened and we need libraries.
For more information about campaigns to save libraries please have a look at Voices for the Library or The Bookseller's Campaign. For up-to-date information on library closures Public Library News is place to look.
Currently 428 libraries are under threat of closure in the UK - sign the petition to save libraries.