What do libraries mean to you? (Part Two)
In the last post on this blog, I discussed how I think that libraries are one of the most vital aspects of our society, and this was followed by pieces written by three other writing-types in response to the question, what do libraries mean to you? Below are the thoughts of three more such talented individuals on the same, very special, subject.
Sharon Sant: Author, Blogger
Like everyone, I’ve grown up with the idea that books are freely accessible to all through the local library. It’s, perhaps, something that I have taken for granted, but when you stop and think about it for a moment, it’s an incredible privilege. Libraries have a special place in my heart for a more personal reason too. My first ever public event as a writer took place in Newcastle-Under-Lyme library. As part of our creative writing degree, a handful of students were persuaded to read aloud a piece of our own writing at a public event. I was so nervous in the weeks leading up to it – what if people thought I was a terrible writer, what if people were so disinterested that nobody actually showed up, what if I got heckled? What I forgot is that the library is frequented by people who are just as passionate about books, learning, writing and literature as I am. Why would these people not be interested in what creative writing students had to offer them? After all, we were just feeding their passion.
I needn’t have worried. Though the audience was small, they were wonderfully supportive. People listened patiently and shared their enthusiasm by coming to us afterwards and congratulating us on what we had created. After that, we went on to do more local libraries, each event better attended and more enjoyable as our confidence grew. Being a writer so often means that you don’t get to see, first hand, the effect your words can have on someone. To watch someone’s face light up as you read, or to see them completely lost in your world as they listen, is something that is indescribable. Without the co-operation of the library services, this would not have happened to me and my fellow students. We were given the opportunity to connect with readers in a way no online interaction could do. To lose that community would be a sad thing indeed.
Dan Thompson: Author, Blogger
What a fascinating question! Libraries are wonderful creatures; creatures that battle the political, social and economic changes that modern life throws its way, with a quiet sort of steadfastness, and it’s an institute we should all make a proud stand to protect.
My family wasn’t well off when I was a young boy. My mum worked three part-time jobs just to be able to put even the most basic food on the table, and books just couldn’t be afforded. My local library was an emporium for words and I was blown away by these mysterious and cryptic objects called books. I had to discover authors, genres, style and classics for myself and when I was handed my very own library card, it undoubtedly became one of my most precious possessions.
The library helped shape my likes and tastes and it was behind those dusty mahogany doors that I was introduced to Marcus Sedgwick, Eoin Colfer and indeed Philip Pullman, whose perfect prose, captivating stories and magical worlds went on to influence my own work.
It would be a tremendous shame if those same dusty mahogany doors would be closed forever, because all I would be able to think about would be, how the children of today would miss out on that spellbinding journey of self-discovery I so aptly went on myself.
Jaimie Admans: Author
Without libraries, I wouldn’t be an author now.
I can’t remember exactly how old I was when my mum first took me to our local library but I think I was probably around eight or nine, and I fell in love. I’d always enjoyed reading, but we never had money for loads of new books, so I would read the ones I already owned over and over again. Family members knew I loved books and would often buy them for me, but it was never enough. I could never get enough books. (I still can’t!) A whole new world of libraries opened up to me. All of those books that I could read anytime I wanted. I think my mum regretted the day she introduced me to the library because I wanted to go there all the time. You were only allowed to check out four books at a time, and it was never enough. I would start reading them as soon as we got home, finish them overnight and want to go back the next day for four more! And when I discovered you could curl up in one of the big comfy chairs there and read whatever you wanted, well, there was no getting me out of the building!
Judy Blume has always been a huge inspiration to me. She inspired me to start writing myself, and without my local library, I would never have read her books. I had found one of her books on a shelf at our primary school and started reading it during break times but wasn’t allowed to take it home. I loved it and looked forward to getting to school everyday so I could read more. I asked Mum to find me more Judy Blume books. She went to the library while I was at school and came home with four new ones. I devoured them. The only problem was choosing which four I would take out next! I was ten by this time and finding Judy Blume books there really cemented my love of libraries. When I had read their entire stock of her books twice over, I moved on to other authors. I was probably too young to be reading the kind of books I was reading, but luckily no one seemed to mind the ten-year-old in the teenage section!
The library love affair continued when I started secondary school. The biggest surprise was finding out we had our own library right there in the school! The bad thing was that it was the top room of the highest building on campus, there were twelve flights of stairs to get up there, so hardly anyone bothered. The good thing about that was that it was always quiet and had a great view! I spent countless school hours devouring books in a chair by the window in that library, and the best part was being able to check out anything I hadn’t finished reading and take it home with me.
There are so many of my favourite childhood books that I discovered in those two libraries. Virginia Andrews, Dyan Sheldon, Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers series, all the Point Romance and Point Horror series, Goosebumps, the list is endless. They all played a part in inspiring me to pick up a pen myself so those two little libraries are totally responsible for my career choice!
Libraries are such a valuable part of any community, it would be devastating to see them shut down and to see kids being deprived of the escape and wonder that library books provided me with when I was younger.
I think you’ll agree that those are three wonderful pieces raising some excellent points. If you’d like to see some suggestions as to how you can support public libraries, check out the National Libraries Day links and resources page, or simply head down to your nearest library and borrow some books!
I would just like to thank Sharon, Dan and Jaimie for taking the time to write and contribute their pieces, and add that collaborating with all six library lovers on these posts really has been a great pleasure.
Finally, if you have any thoughts you’d like to add, please feel free to do so in the comments section below.