Libraries..."don't judge by class, race or religion. They service everyone in their community, no matter their circumstances. Rich or poor; no one is denied. Libraries are not simply part of our guarantee to the pursuit of happiness. They are a civil right. If we lose our libraries, we risk losing our communities, our families and ourselves." Karin Slaughter
Yesterday was National Library Day. I celebrated by finishing reading The Library Book (in which you will find the above quote). This book illustrates one of the reasons I love libraries so much: you get to read books you might never stumble upon otherwise. I didn't know of The Library Book's existence but it caught my eye in one of my local library's displays (and not just because it colour co-ordinates with my reading glasses so well).
It's not often I get to the end of a book, and feel that I could read it all over again, immediately, but I could easily have done so this time. And it's one of those books where I couldn't stop myself from reading parts out loud to whoever happened to be in the vicinity.
We all know what a fantastic resource libraries are (and mostly for free), for individuals and society at large, and that they're not just about the books, but the twenty-three writers (including Alan Bennett, Stephen Fry, Zadie Smith, Kate Mosse, Lionel Shriver, Caitlin Moran and Nicky Wire) who have contributed short stories, articles, polemic against current Coalition policy and reminiscences about their own experience of libraries, put this into words far better than I can. Many of them assert that they wouldn't be where they are today as writers and journalists, without a particular library and its librarians.
We're lucky in Wiltshire; any cuts in our library service have made little difference on the ground - the opening hours may have been tweaked and it's all become much too self-service for a technophobe like me - but we can't grumble. Others don't have our good fortune; my sister and nieces in Sunderland campaigned unsuccessfully against library closures last summer. I thought of them when I read Alan Bennett's argument that: "For a child a library needs to be round the corner. And if we lose local libraries it is children who suffer."
We must cherish our libraries and our librarians, not just on National Library Day, but everyday.