My children love trips to the library. They always have, from the first time they were able to haul board books from a thoughtfully provided tot-sized box-table affair. At first they sat on the floor with their noses stuck into a battered copy of The Gruffalo, thrilled at finding something familiar.
Then the library became a resource. A mine of knowledge, or at least a place to find the Pokemon books I refused to buy, tucked away in the heart of our village.
I also waded happily through recorded books that kept me sane during commutes, my hubby has beaten a path to the CD section, I’ve copied documents for pennies, bought remaindered books and used the internet there when we’d been hit by lightening and our router melted.
Many Ready for Ten family members like a good book. Alice’s most recent suggestions were spot on. And look, she suggested a trip to the library for to find the titles.
Our readers are quick to report that the library is a great resource for a huge range of other things including holiday reading schemes and proper old-fashioned community information. In fact, this month’s Ready for Ten theme is community with Linda asking what it means to our children.
I’d say that the local library might come pretty close to summing it up. Where else can local people find such information, support, learning and a friendly face?
Mrs Green, who home schooled her nine-year-old for three years is saddened that her library is to close, especially as her daughter book-wormed her way through a staggering 500 books in a year.
She said: “There is no way we would have either the room or the finances to buy her 500 books a year, so this is going to be a great loss to us, not only from the books point of view, but the community too.
“Every time we go in there we find someone to talk to, to share the latest village news with and we have drop-in centres where we can catch up with local people such as the village policeman, village agents and other people.”
And Rootmtoot, who works in a library that is earmarked for closure, said: “I have parents telling me every day that this means they won’t be able to go a library anymore. We also have lots of kids who come in alone after school. They will have nowhere to go and limited access to books.”
These aren’t isolated cases. Voices For The Library, a campaign to save the library and its librarians, has this map bristling with red closure pins. And if you needed more convincing, it is full of warm stories of what libraries have meant to individuals — of how they are much, much more than a place to borrow books.
For many people, especially those on low incomes, libraries are the only place to find a steady — and free — supply of nutrition for their brains. Surely as important as five-a-day for the body? The Public Libraries News blog claims more than 370 libraries will be shut because of the cuts. It gives a breakdown region by region so you can find out what’s happening near you.
I know times are tough and there have to be cuts. And also we need to be realistic about where the axe must fall, but libraries surely deserve to be protected for the sake of our children.
Don’t let this be the generation that shuts the book on free lending libraries.