For The Love Of Libraries

“Google can bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one.”

– Neil Gaiman
[Image Description: Colourful library books arranged on shelves, close up of books on the left and shelves aisle into the distance on the right of the image.]
[Image Description: Colourful library books arranged on shelves, close up of books on the left and shelves aisle into the distance on the right of the image.]

When I was at the coast over winter, I frequently went to the local library as I am a major book nerd and I was participating in a community craft project which the library was running. One day when I was there, browsing the stacks for books that I didn’t need or have time to read, I overheard a conversation that very nearly made me laugh out loud. 

By the sound of his voice, an elderly man walked up to the reception desk at the library and requested to use a computer. The staff person asked with a sweet ‘well how long would you like to use it for?’ and he replied with great pride and gusto, ‘Only 30 minutes. This year I am going to fill out my Census form online!’. 

This was just one of the interactions that I overheard or participated in at the library. All of the experiences were positively engaging, inclusive and respectful of every person who visited.  

When we think of libraries, we usually only recognise them for their book lending capabilities – but they are so much more than that. 

Libraries are a vital hub of the community. 

Libraries are a place where everyone in the community is welcome, which makes it a diverse and inclusive meeting space. People of all ages frequent the library and this mix of intergenerational gatherings is a very beneficial, reliable source of human contact for the development of young people and company for the elderly, and everyone in between.  

It is a safe haven for people who need community and need solitude. It is strange and delightful how both can exist in one environment. It may be the elderly man who lives alone and comes to the library every morning to read the newspaper. It may be a teenage girl who lives with her many siblings and needs a quiet space to study without interruptions. It may be the place where someone who has recently migrated to the country meets new people and fills out employment forms online. It’s a place to escape to when it’s too hot or cold outside for those who can’t afford air conditioning. For people who can’t afford paying for entertainment, events or education, or are environmentally mindful of borrowing rather than buying. 

“Bad libraries build collections, good libraries build services, great libraries build communities.”

-R. David Lankes
[Image Description: Colourful library books arranged on shelves, image is looking through the shelves to the next aisles.]
[Image Description: Colourful library books arranged on shelves, image is looking through the shelves to the next aisles.]

“Libraries store the energy that fuels the imagination. They open up windows to the world and inspire us to explore and achieve, and contribute to improving our quality of life.”

– Sidney Sheldon

Education and services are available to everyone, regardless of your skills and level of education, and usually has programmes and support to help literacy and life skills for those who need it. You can try things out without a heavy commitment. It is one of the very rare places to go that does not usually require money or pressure to buy something. A lot of libraries are scrapping fees in exchange for long-life food products for charity, when patrons are in a position to give.

Wandering around, curiously looking at what is available, sparking ideas and future plans, the library is a place of possibilities. Where idleness is encouraged and sensory overload is to a minimum. It is almost impossible to enter a library and not immediately fall into a mindful state. Listening to children sound out words and the excitement when they get it right, the hum of the printer as a student studies and completes an assignment, a weekly ‘Knit and Natter’ group craft session, the gentle scrap sound of a book being pulled off the shelf and the thud of a towering pile of books dropped on the counter to be checked out with a beep. The responsibility and excitement that comes with your first library membership card as a child – the ticket to expanding your world. We have all felt and noticed these experiences in a library.

The decrease in funding for our libraries is detrimental for the community. How can you put a price on everything that a library provides? There is no price for education, literacy, creating community, social inclusion, the friendly familiar face of a librarian, a place of no judgement, a sanctuary, encouraging the love of reading in children and adults, creative displays, and a safety net for vulnerable people who are in danger of falling through the cracks. These benefits do not directly translate in online services or mobile libraries. A library is not just about book lending, it’s about community and it belongs to the people.

Libraries are boats

And the books are life jackets

Without them we’ll drown

The Last Chance Library by Freya Sampson

Take heart, readers. I’ll keep the light on.

[Image Description: Blue fabric cushion with embroidery writing that says 'Sometimes you read a book so special, that you want to carry it with you for months after you've finished, just to stay near it - Marcus Zusak'.]
[Image Description: Blue fabric cushion with embroidery writing that says ‘Sometimes you read a book so special, that you want to carry it with you for months after you’ve finished, just to stay near it – Marcus Zusak’.]

Book Therapy – Care: The Radical Art Of Taking Time

One of my all-time favorite people to recommend is Brooke McAlary and her new book, Care, helps us work out what to do when the world’s problems feel too big and we are burnt out from trying, and we need to restore ourselves so that we can continue to care for things.

Book Therapy – There Is No Good Card For This

We have all been in that place where something awful happens to someone and we are petrified of saying the wrong thing or not sure how to help. This is where the book ‘There Is No Good Card For This: What to Say and Do When Life is Scary, Awful and Unfair to People You Love’ by Emily McDowell and Kelsey Crowe comes in to save us!

Book Therapy – The Boy, The Mole, The Fox & The Horse

Let me introduce you to the beautiful human that is Charlie Mackesy and his incredibly empathetic book, The Boy, The Mole, The Fox & The Horse. If there was ever a time when we needed Charlie Mackesy’s drawings, it would be over the last year.

Book Therapy – Notes On A Nervous Planet

Matt Haig is a brilliant writer and human being who is constantly investigating and questioning the effect of modern life on our mental health. He is a huge advocate for mental health wellness, and has shared his experiences through his multiple fiction works and his non-fiction books.

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