Friday, 3 February 2012

National Libraries Day 2012 – Why are libraries so important?

Saturday 4th February is National Libraries Day in the UK. A day to show support and solidarity for our public library service – a day to visit your local library and take out some books. It doesn’t matter if you’re no longer a member or have lost your card. Go down and rejoin – it’s free! Take the family and friends and see what your local library has to offer, you could well be pleasantly surprised.

There are over two hundred events being held at libraries across the country. Click here to find out what's happening near you.

In the last twelve months my local library opening hours have been reduced. It's a trend affecting branches across the country. In addition many libraries have been closed and many more are under threat. So what? You might say. In the current times of austerity, everyone is feeling the pinch. Funding is being taken from the police service, hospitals and schools. Why are libraries so important?

Is a fair question. Voices for the Library provide some answers here.

But I thought I’d ask my fellow authors at the Edge, what libraries mean to them:

"We went to the library every week when I was a child. I had access to books that I never would have found in the shops, or been able to afford. I read my favourite books again and again – discovered new authors, read everything they'd written. The library made me who I am today." – Keren David

"Apart from school, my town library was the only place we were allowed to go out of the house to when we were growing up. For my sisters and I, the library became a place of endless entertainment … Every week we maxxed out our library cards in search of new voices and stories of different lands, different times. It was also place of refuge and sanctuary through our own difficult times.  Quite simply, the library opened up the whole world to us." – Savita Kalhan

"I'm from a small town where there were no book stores - and no Amazon - when I was growing up. I have fond memories of my school and community libraries. I would check out the same books over and over - The Secret Garden and The Boxcar Children. I loved being surrounded by stories where laughter, adventure, romance and tears were only a page turn away. It made my small town seem not so small." – Sara Grant

"My family were voracious readers when I was growing up but my parents couldn't afford to buy books. We walked to the local library as a regular weekly outing. I remember us passing books round as we entered our teens, such as The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck, renewing it on a weekly basis as there were five of us. My mother … was a great fan of Emil Zola and there were dozens of those to get through, every single copy borrowed from our little local library. I continued the tradition with my own children. The library should be at the heart of every community." – Miriam Halahmy

"I have many happy memories of time spent in the library with my kids when they were all preschoolers.  I had the three of them at home and it was always a joy to visit the library and sit in the kids' section, full of toys, beautiful illustrations on the walls and, most importantly, boxes of wonderful books.  We'd all scrunch up on the bean bags and read story after story. Magical worlds opened up in that welcoming space and helped instill in them a love of books." – Paula Rawsthorne

"Libraries for me are an essential part of the way I raise my children and spend my time. I’m in my local library at least once a week. They have a children’s Rhymetime on Friday mornings, and it’s free – how many other children’s indoor social activities in this day and age are actually free? It’s a great place to go when it rains, where I can sit and read to my son, books that he doesn’t have at home. I can get out enough books to keep me reading (which otherwise would be beyond our financial means) and not just old books either – I can order in new books and get them pretty fast at the cost of just £1. And because it’s free I read things I otherwise wouldn’t.
        I can meet friends there, I can use the computer and I see many old age pensioners (with no computer of their own at home) using the facility for free (my uncle has just been told if he wants to collect his pension he has to have an email address – how else is he to get one?).
        The children see the library as a magical place and they love to browse the books. They can get out a DVD, or a game for their wii without it costing all their pocket money." – Bryony Pearce

And here's a final thought from me:

For the want of a library, a book was lost.
For the want of a book, a reader was lost.
For the want of a reader, a story was lost.
For the want of a story, empathy was lost.
For the want of empathy, understanding was lost.
For the want of understanding, an idea was lost.
For the want of an idea, a future was lost.
For the want of a future, everything was lost.
And all for the want of a library.

For further information, please visit the following:

You can tweet your support using the #NLD12 hashtag.

See you down the library! 
Cheers, Dave.


  1. Weekly trips to our local library as a child always filled me with excitement. Which six books would I take out that day? As soon as I got home I'd curl up on my bed and start reading. I've never lost that thrill.

  2. I took my children regularly to the library. It was an afternoon out, they loved it, and it was free. They still both have a love of reading. But it's not just about books. It's a lifeline when your computer/internet packs up and you can use theirs.

  3. Lovely posts! Will be in touch soon about inviting you to our new library when it opens in the autumn. YLG SW will be running a one day lit-fest focusing on edgy books! Have a great NLD12 :-)

  4. Sounds great, Tracy. Look forward to hearing from you.

    A new library opening – that's the kind of news we want to hear! All the best for the launch.