Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Why do libraries matter?

Yesterday morning I watched a feature about World Book Night on BBC breakfast TV in which the wonderful author Frank Cottrell Boyce was interviewed in the stunning new Liverpool library.  This passionate author, who I had the pleasure of seeing at a reading of his book Framed a couple of years back, rightly described the closure of 200 UK libraries  as “an act of cultural vandalism” and further “an act of mad draining of our mental capital.”

Knowledge is power and libraries make knowledge accessible to all, so closing a library is a political gesture.
Libraries are treasure troves. Libraries played a significant part in nurturing my lifelong love of reading.  As a child I devoured the resources of my school library and our local library.  When I had exhausted their shelves, I joined what we called the “big library” in the town centre. Not only were books available there, but also music scores and cassettes and records, (invaluable for a music student).  Many years later, whilst an undergraduate at University, the library became my second home, my favourite place on campus, a dazzling source of knowledge that satisfied my thirst for research. 

Since then, libraries have been forced to adapt and re-invent themselves to justify their existence, offering dvds, computers, free internet access and meeting facilities, and they continue to evolve.

Although I love the 24/7 virtual library offered by the internet, not everyone has this access, and as long as there are people, there is a need for physical libraries.  I can’t imagine a world without them.  Can you?

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