Saturday, June 20, 2009

Libraries ROCK!

On his twitter, the really rather excellent Neil Gaiman just highlighted this brilliant article about nigh-on legendary Ray Bradbury's fight to save his local library - and it got me thinking about how crucial libraries are for forming and sustaining kids' imaginations...

When I was little, a trip to Kingswinford Library wasn't just a mundane thing: it was an event. I was fortunate enough to be be brought up by book-loving parents who encouraged both my sister and I to read whenever and wherever possible. Right from the start, they instilled a sense of awe and wonder about books into us - and it's something I've never lost. Kingswinford Library is not the largest or most impressive collection of books, but for the thrill of endless discovery it afforded this child it was a palace of possibilities, a magical portal to countless destinations...

Here, within the small children's section, I discovered other lands, mythical creatures, fantastic tales and happy-ever-afters, all contained within unassuming wooden boxes surrounded by red plastic chairs. It fired my imagination, making me want to create stories like the ones I read there... In fact, my ambition when I was little was to one day pen a story worthy of Kingswinford Library's shelves.

Now, with the release date of my debut novel less than five months away, I'm wondering if my childhood ambition might just be realised...

We need libraries to thrill, excite, inform and set light to the imaginations of future generations of kids. The very worst thing that can happen is to cut this vital public service in the name of cost-cutting. I believe that such a move could have untold consequences for future readers. Visiting my local library as a child made me grow into a lifelong reader and I am convinced that it played a crucial part in me becoming a writer today.

I was thinking about this today as I struggled to find space in my little flat for the scarily large amount of books I've managed to ecrue over the past couple of years (I can't help it, I'm a hopeless book addict. Three words in Waterstones that spell imminent disaster for my wallet are: 'THREE FOR TWO'...)We're all looking for ways to save money right now and books take up space (I can't throw books away. It feels like an abomination!) - so why not visit the library instead?

So this week, I am going to go and re-register at my local library (now Stourbridge - a bit bigger with reading tables, too!). Let's start a great library revival right here!

What do you think? Comment here or visit me on Twitter: @wurdsmyth

1 comment:

Lexi said...

I agree, libraries are great, but you really need one you pass each day now the fines are so big.

I use two, The Barbican library which is good with intelligent, knowledgable staff, and the much closer Shoreditch library, where I doubt the staff read at all. They had the terrifying post-nuclear war graphic novel When the Wind Blows, by Raymond Briggs, in the children's section.

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