Sunday, 20 April 2014

On the awesomeness of Libraries

Being a bookworm, it is unsurprising that I have a huge fondness for libraries and have done, ever since I was a small child. I'm sure that many blogs dedicated to books and writing have done a feature on this topic, but libraries are so important to me, I couldn't resist doing one of my own. So here are my reasons why libraries are awesome, and why I think they should remain open as much as possible:

1. Libraries are free!

This is such an obvious point to make, but sometimes I think people forget that in their own town there is somewhere where they can obtain books, newspapers and magazines without having to pay anything. In this day and age, it is so easy and convenient to just download an e-book or pop to the corner shop to buy a magazine, but this costs money and if you are trying to save up for something, then libraries can be a great resource. I think being an active member of a library has saved me thousands of pounds over the years, since I read on average one book every two weeks. If I bought a book or downloaded an e-book every time I wanted to read something new instead of just checking one out for free I would be a lot poorer than I am - I might even be in debt!

2. Libraries Promote Discovery

Since the books in the library are free, its easier for people to take a risk and try authors they wouldn't otherwise. On the rare occasions that I do buy books from a bookshop I tend to purchase books from authors that I already like since I want to make sure that I get the best value for my money, whereas I'm more likely to try a book outside of my comfort zone when I'm browsing in the library. If I try a book from the library and I find I don't like it, I can always take it back and try something else, whereas I can't go back to a bookshop and get a refund just because I didn't enjoy the story. I've discovered a lot of great authors through libraries and I think my reading tastes would be a lot less broad if I bought all the books I read.

3. Libraries Promote A Sense of Community

Libraries aren't just places to sit and read in peace, they are also great places to meet people. Most libraries run lots of different activities and classes every week, which can range from reading groups to choirs, as well as specialized activities for children. Libraries also promote a sense of community because they are open to everyone, no matter what their reading ability is. Libraries are one of the few places where old and young people can be found together, one of the few places where it doesn't matter how much you earn or what you're wearing or what you believe in, you're still welcome to come in and learn something or try something new.

Over the course of my life, libraries have been a refuge from bad weather, a place to cure boredom or loneliness, somewhere I can go when I'm too broke to even buy a coffee from a coffeeshop, a place to meet up with my friends, a place to escape to when life gets too much and now that I'm a nanny, somewhere to take my charges when nowhere else is open. Libraries stimulate my mind, and make me feel inspired even when I'm in a bad mood, and I think they are invaluable not just to me as an individual, but to society in general. I believe that libraries build people up, and that they should be used and appreciated instead of being taken for granted, which they often are. 

If you are interested in this topic, then I would recommend you read The Library Book. It's a collection of essays written by famous authors and journalists, all explaining why they love libraries and why the British Government shouldn't close them. My favourite article in the book is by Caitlin Moran, it is a very touching account of how going to the library helped her realize who she wanted to be, namely a highly revered writer for the Sunday Times.



Adele Caffrey said...

I loved The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier, it taught me about the people who used to hide slaves before the emancipation in America. I've read most of her novels but this is the first I really loved since Fallen Angels, set around the time of the Suffragette movement in London.

Sarah Ashman said...

Thanks for your comment Adele! I haven't read any books by Tracy Chevalier, but The Last Runaway sounds interesting - I like stories about revolutionary people, people who are brave and make a difference for the rest of us. If you're interested in reading more about slavery I would suggest Uncle Tom's cabin [although it is a very hefty read and I personally didn't finish it!]. Fallen Angels sounds good - I'm always awed by how much the Suffragettes did and I feel guilty that I don't always remember to vote. Historical fiction is definitely one of the genres I don't read enough of, so thanks for your suggestion!