I, of course, do not mean my title literally – the whole point of library books is that you cannot keep them forever (the fine would be extortionate) but I mean it in the sense that I think libraries are one of the greatest services this country has.
When I was at primary school, I volunteered (along with 3 other girls) to be a class librarian and spent my lunch breaks keeping the library in order – sorting out all the book returns and making sure all the cards (no digital logging system then) were up to date. It might sound insanely geeky, but I loved it. So you can see, my appreciation of the library started at a young age.
Now, I find them brilliant on a practical level, I just don’t have space in my house to keep all the books I read – so returning them once read is ideal. And there is nothing worse than just having spent £10 on a book, only to discover a few pages in that you are not enjoying it and it’s basically a waste of money. Not a problem with a library book – return and move on. There are just too many books in the world to take up valuable reading time on one that is not for you.
But what I really love about them is they are such great community hubs, encouraging people to come and read books and magazines, browse the internet, have a coffee or join a study group. The service they provide is integral to everyone feeling there is a place they can go, don’t have to spend any money but can gain access to so much information and knowledge.
Now I have a baby, I’ve discovered that the library is just a gift that keeps on giving. Rhyme Time now fits firmly into my schedule, it’s a great little initiative where the librarians grab a box full of tambourines and sing nursery rhymes with toddlers for half an hour, a few times a week. Nothing to do with reading but everything to do with creating a wonderful service for the community and a space for children to have fun, and if your child is drawn to a book while they’re there, all the better.
I’ll end by drawing your eyes to the image above – a wonderful mosaic outside one of my local libraries, it enchants me every time I see it, such a simple yet striking idea and, quite frankly, yet another reason to love the library.
I love the library too, having just recently rejoined after I moved. Like you my experience began when I was much younger, I had a really good relationship with my teacher my final year of primary school, I’d know him since I was about 5 years old and he was still finishing his teacher training. The benefit of that was when Walkers Crisps did their books for schools promo he picked me and a friend to count all the tokens, and more importantly to browse the catalogue and pick the books for the school. In secondary school I volunteered in the library once a week, I loved it, using the computer system to check out books and return them, I picked up on some great reads by re-shelving them.
And you’re right libraries are great community areas, it’s a shame so many are under threat because of local council budget cuts.
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What a great opportunity getting to pick books for your school! I always found being in the school library really calming, too, such a great contrast to the craziness of the rest of the place, I guess.
It is such a shame that some are closing down, but I’m so glad they realise that evolving and making themselves essential to the community will really help their future. It will be a very sad day if my local library shuts!
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