Save Our Libraries

Today has been named Save Our Libraries day. Several hundred libaries across the country are threatened with closure due to public spending cuts, and campaigners have been mobilising in protest.

Library Books and More, by my name's axel

I fully understand the idea behind shutting libraries rather than cutting other public services. They are only used by a small percentage of the population and they’re not essential in the same way that good quality roads or old people’s homes are. That said, any cuts would be tragic. I use libraries a few times a year. I’ve used them to take out books, CDs and DVDs, as well as for research. They’re great for letting you find books that you want to read but don’t want to buy. Books aren’t cheap. I’ve been put off buying books on many occasions because of the cost. I remember looking at a copy of Gawain and the Green Knight with the intention of buying it, but when I saw it was £8 I put it back. It’s not a big book and there aren’t even any royalties to pay, so how can that price be justified? At a library, though, you can pick up a book that’s different from what you usually read. You wouldn’t buy it, in case you didn’t like it, but at a library that doesn’t matter. You might discover a new author or even a whole genre that you love.

Library Books, by denverjeffrey.

They’re also great for reference books. The internet is wonderful but to use it for research, especially on technical or scientific subjects, can be risky. Books are much more reliable.

Perhaps the best argument in favour of libraries is that they are more important to some people thank others. The elderly, for instance. They provide computers for those without computer access at home. They are centres for the community, where people can find out about local groups and social events. They help keep people connected, to each other and to the local area.

A number of those campaigning to save libraries are authors. Philip Pullman gave a speech at an Oxfordshire campaign meeting which is worth a read if you have time. It’s quite long, though, so here’s an extract that to me, really sums up the importance of libraries:

I still remember the first library ticket I ever had. It must have been about 1957. My mother took me to the public library just off Battersea Park Road and enrolled me. I was thrilled. All those books, and I was allowed to borrow whichever I wanted! And I remember some of the first books I borrowed and fell in love with: the Moomin books by Tove Jansson; a French novel for children called A Hundred Million Francs; why did I like that? Why did I read it over and over again, and borrow it many times? I don’t know. But what a gift to give a child, this chance to discover that you can love a book and the characters in it, you can become their friend and share their adventures in your own imagination. … Somewhere in Blackbird Leys, somewhere in Berinsfield, somewhere in Botley, somewhere in Benson or Bampton, to name only the communities beginning with B whose libraries are going to be abolished, somewhere in each of them there is a child right now, there are children, just like me at that age in Battersea, children who only need to make that discovery to learn that they too are citizens in the republic of learning. Only the public library can give them that gift.

Quotes from

About elentari86

Apparently blogs need to cover a certain niche in order to attract readers. My aim is not to attract readers. I don't deny it would be nice not to just be spouting to myself, but the reason I set this blog up was to give myself somewhere to write down my thoughts. If anyone reads them, that's a bonus. This blog will cover a mix of things - anything that comes to mind that I want to write about. I make no promises about how often I will publish new content.
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8 Responses to Save Our Libraries

  1. leadinglight says:

    I fully support the Save the Libraries campaign. As a student of literature, they have been a valuable resource to me. Good on Philip Pullman to back this with his support. I use public libraries extensively and read about 25 books per month and watch about 5 DVDs. Imagine how costly it would be if I were to purchase all this? Besides free access to Internet can be invaluable.

  2. Paul W Harvey says:


    The library I used to work in had its funding cut by 15% more than a year ago, and may lose 7% more in a few months. It’s a death by repeated cuts, and many people are worried. Sunday hours are being covered by volunteers. I worked there for 37 years, and have since retired. I try to cheer my former co-workers up when I drop in.

    What could be better than sititng in the comfortable chairs and reading the newspapers and magazines, and then picking up four or five books to read on those frequent nights when snow is falling outside?

    DVDs are extremely popular there. The library has a reputation for having the best collection of DVDs in the area. People drive twenty to thirty miles for them.

    I wish the cuts would stop. Where are we going with this endless slump?

    (My library is in the U.S. I’m sorry the U.K. is having these terrible cuts. }

    Paul H

  3. blackwatertown says:

    I love libraries – or in our case – the library bus. Always a friendly relaxed time when we climb aboard. In the wider area, we have one library run traditionally, and another run by volunteers.

  4. leadinglight says:

    I am under 25 and yet to have kids. My Saturdays and Friday nights are for socialisation while Sundays are reserved for reading. I am an exceptionally fast reader which was a skill I developed when I was young. Like other mums banned kids from watching TV, I was banned from watching excessive novels. To circumvent this rule, I read with the novels hidden between my lap while teachers droned on at school. I had teachers who recited the textbook so if I went home and read it, I could pass my tests easily as memorising was something that came easily to me.

  5. elentari86 says:

    Still, that’s very impressive. I ought to read more than I do. I read loads as a child, but then the internet came around.

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