Monday, 9 February 2015

National Libraries Day

This weekend saw National Libraries Day. I'm very lucky because I have some excellent libraries near to me. My local library is an awesome library. Everybody is very friendly and it is open at times that are convenient to me which means I can visit regularly. They are open until 7 in the evening week nights and they're even open on a Sunday. They also have a quick drop box, just like with video rental stores, which means that even if I don't make it during opening hours, I can still drop my books back and not incur late fees.

There was a time in my life when I literally ran out of books. I read all the books that had been on my shelf, which was pretty impressive but I was looking for work at the time, doing a bit of supply teaching, a bit of bar work and a bit of tutoring but nothing that gave me a regular income or regular hours so I was reading a lot in my extended free time but I couldn't afford to go and buy books. At this time I relied on the library. I could read the books for free and they also carried the TES newspaper where I could search for jobs when it came out every Friday. I couldn't afford broadband at the time either and so this was a vital outlet for me for leisure but also for employment reasons-it was a real life line and whilst I no longer have a card for this particular library, or any plans to visit that part of the country again, it's still special to me and the place I discovered Bill Bryson.

I'm actually a member of four different libraries, greedy I know. When I moved house in the summer, one of the first things that I did was join the library but I'm still not that far away from my old library where I used to live. This is also an excellent library, a little bigger than my current library but I still use this library if I ever want to borrow audiobooks because they have an excellent selection and they only cost £1.50 to borrow. Which is a steal when you think about the cost of actually buying an audiobook. 

There is also an excellent library next to the school that I work in that I have built up links with through the school. I am also a member of this library so if I feel the need to browse some books and I only have five minutes in the day where I can do this, it is literally 2 minutes walk from my office to their front door, probably not even that! They also sell Starbucks coffee which Is a nice little bonus. 

This brings me onto the last library that I am a member of and that is the library in the town I grew up in. I am still a member of this library because I normally spend quite a lot of time at 'home' during the summer holidays and so I still use my old local library to borrow books and audiobook. My mum and I often travel quite a bit when I'm home and so I'll go and borrow an audiobook for the two of us to listen to in the car. This library had a gorgeous refit a few years ago and, although it is still relatively small compared to the other libraries I frequent, it is very high-tech and has a nice separate children's section as well as a young adult sections which includes young adult audiobooks. 

This library has sentimental value for me because, as a child, this is where I became more indepednt with my reading. I remember when I became old enough to have my own library card and when I realised that I had literally listened to all the audiobooks they had in the children's sections, just like in Matilda-I know! It was here that I began the transition from the children's section to the teen section to the adult section, at that time I didn't really know what I wanted to read but I knew I wanted to read something and so I tried Lord of the Rings, it wasn't such a hit with me as the hobbit had been some, years earlier. 

Unfortunately, this library is one of the many that faces the threat of closure and this makes me really upset. I know what an important place it was to me as a child and to my reading journey. When I go into the library now I will see people I grew up with and also children I have taught and it makes me happy to see it being so well used and being such a bit part of the community. People might argue that the next library is only a bus journey or car journey away but that isn't somewhere people will visit after school, that isn't somewhere that people will pop into on a Saturday morning as a weekend treat, that is something that people will have to make the conscious decision to make the travel arrangements to get there, and that's before we even consider all the groups and community projects that take place there. 

I'm very sad that one of the libraries that I frequent may close and hope that something changes to stop that from happening. 

As you can see, libraries are important to me and have been a big part of my life from my childhood, through my university days where I spent long hours from very early in the morning until very late at night writing essays and reading up on those essays in my university library, through bad times and now into better times. And that is why I celebrated national libraries day by visiting my local library and spending in some time just soaking in the books (I didn't borrow anything becaus I already had items on loan!)

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