National Libraries Day 2015

Today is National Libraries Day, a day for celebrating the great resource that is our libraries.

I love libraries. Love them.  

At my secondary school different year groups were allowed to use the library on different days and whenever it was a day for my year I would be found with my friends in the library.  Perhaps doing some homework, but more likely just chatting (quietly).  For a couple of terms (I can't remember when) I volunteered in the library and loved organising the books and getting to check books in and out.

My sixth form college had a library as well as a silent study area.  The library had areas for working, but when I discovered the silent study area that quickly became my preferred area - I could get so much more work done there and really concentrate until the bell would ring, making everyone not wearing headphones jump.

At university, I had access to several libraries.  There was the one in my college, which was well-equipped but I tended not to use it very much as I knew most of the people who used it and so we'd just end up chatting.  I soon found my favourite areas in the main library, I liked the seats by the window when I was browsing and doing research for essays, I preferred the science section when I was revising (mainly because I knew fewer scientists, so less chance of being distracted by someone) and I made the most of the study room for postgraduate students when I was working on my thesis.  

But these were libraries I had access to as I was a student at that institution - great, brilliant resources that I could freely access.  Not everyone has such access.  That's why public libraries are so important.  

As a child, I was only allowed to take four books out at once.  I remember the day I went to the library with a friend and the librarian said the rules had changed and I could now take out 12, the same as an adult.  I gleefully took out 12 books and cycled home.  My mum was concerned I wouldn't read them before they were due back in three weeks - of course I read them!

I've always read a lot - many photos from my childhood are of me reading, I always took a book in the car with me (even if we were just going to the supermarket) and would take as many books on holiday as I was allowed to pack in fear that I would run out of something to read.

I was often given books as birthday and Christmas presents, but new books are expensive - my family wouldn't have been able to keep up with my love of reading if they'd had to buy every new book for me.  This is one reason libraries are brilliant - you can borrow books for free!

Free!  See a book you like? Borrow it for free and try it.  Love it? Brilliant, come and check out the other books by that author, or other books in that genre.  Hated it? That's fine, just return it, no money lost! (Unless, of course, you don't return it on time - but how much is the fine? A couple of pounds?)

Let's consider these books I got out from the library a week or so ago:

Bassett by Stella Gibbons I chose simply because I hadn't heard of it - I've since read it and liked it a lot.  I would never have chosen this in a book shop and I doubt I'd ever have come across it in a charity shop.  Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer I chose because I was attracted to the title, but again, I don't think I'd have bought it in a shop.  The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon by Alexandre McCall Smith I chose as it's the latest in The No.1. Ladies' Detective Agency series and I love these books.  But I wouldn't have bought it in a book shop as it's only going to take me a matter of hours to read, I won't read it again and I don't know any friends who are this up-to-date with the series as a whole so I wouldn't be able to pass it on.  I also haven't seen it in a charity shop (just multiple copies of the first few books!).  This is why I love libraries, I can try out new books, find books I want to read but don't really want to spend money on and not feel guilty when I don't enjoy a book and return it the next day.

My local library has a class or a group every day of the week, ranging from computer skills to a knitting group to sessions for children of different ages.  The staff members are also very friendly and helpful.  I am so pleased that the library is used so often by so many different people, even if they're not there to read or borrow books.  People need to keep using their libraries, so that councils realise just how valuable they are.  They're so much more than a 'service' - they are multi-purpose buildings, safe spaces, containing knowledge and wisdom.

I'm off to my local library now - I have some books to return (on time) and no doubt I will be drawn in by their 'quick pick' shelf, or perhaps I'll have a look at the 'recently returned' trolley and see what others have been reading.

I've got quick a few favourite quotes about books and reading, and here is my favourite one about libraries:

"Libraries are reservoirs of strength, grace and wit, reminders of order, calm and continuity, lakes of mental energy, neither warm nor cold, light nor dark...In any library in the world, I am at home, unselfconscious, still and absorbed." - Germaine Greer.


  1. Definitely a big yay for libraries! They're magical places and something we're all very lucky to have :-) xx

    1. There's been a lot of love for libraries this weekend!

  2. I love my life in France but I definitely miss British libraries.

    My parents quickly realised that if I had a book to read I would happily spend hours at (boring) cricket matches and always checked I had spare books when we went out for the day!

    I loved "The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" series but I tried some of his other books and didn't like them so much.

    1. Sounds similar to me, give me a book and I'll happily put up with most things! I've tried a few other AMS books but I just haven't liked them, think I'll be sticking with the lady detectives instead!


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