Okay, this is a post I’m writing a little bit out of guilt; in spite of the fact that I have a library card, I don’t go to my local library often. Yet, this is an instution I value highly.
Books have been a part of my cultural landscape for a long time now; ever since I learned to read, all those years ago, I have been fascinated by books. These are palpable time portals, and the easiest methods of transportation; you could sit anywhere-in a noisy cafe or the quiet park bench-and travel around all these worlds inside your head. And it’s something that I take great pleasure in.
Any library is effectively a curator of what I’ve just written; these are the instutions that hold these books dearly close to them. And unlike Google, they aren’t the most popular result; as the writer Caitlin Moran once stated, the difference is that they are the best result. And often from librarians who know what to look for, complete with familiarity of the books.
Nowadays, I’m a student sitting her A-levels, whilst juggling revision, blogging, writing a column, a shorthand diploma, and a (very limited!) social life. That’s why I don’t visit the library near my house any more; too busy, too wrapped up in learning, writing, cramming. Yet, these buildings are where ideas take true flight, where we could hone our beliefs, learn about anything we could have ever wished for. I value this instruction highly, yet I don’t use it enough.
The writer Matt Haig also made a very good point on Twitter; “Libraries are not just about books. They are almost the only public space we have left which don’t like our wallets more than us”. Apart from keeping my library card there, I find him to be completely correct; libraries are virtually free nowadays. We don’t have to pay an entrance fee, for instance. We can borrow books, for free. (Only a fee is paid if overdue, usually, or having to order in, etc.)
Libraries are beautiful things.
As a Bibliophile, I wish to encourage you all to go to your local library more-it’s something that I’ll try to do more of. I do my part online for books-such as in reviewing review copies, interviewing writers-but I do worry that this is not enough. Our libraries are valuable. Our libraries are an educative tool. We need them now more than ever.