Living in a rural community in Bedfordshire I am so aware of the importance of the local library service especially for the younger and older members of the family. The memories of going to a library as a child are extremely precious for me, to treasure in the same way as going into a sweetshop. Bookshops too are fantastic for kids but there’s nothing like a child being able to browse though a variety of colourful picture books to choose for themselves the ones to borrow for the week ahead. When it is time to leave, what a fantastic way to teach values for a child to take their chosen books to be scanned, stamped in my day of course, and put carefully into Mum, Dad’s or Grandma’s shopping bag. This is even more true for towns which have no bookshop in which to browse. You just can’t get the same relationship with or feel for an online book.
Once at home it’s wonderful for children to experience the rare quiet and solitude of being absorbed in a book, letting their imagination to soar in their fantasy world. This is totally different to watching TV or playing games on the internet. Then of course there’s sharing a book at bedtime. What a soothing end to a child’s day!
For manyof us, our busyworking have cut out the simple pleasure of visiting the library for books, although I have used mine for research purposes, even ordering books unavailable locally. For a small fee I even had one book sent over from a library in Guernsey. That’s service for you. I have also given three talks now in my local libraries, all very enjoyable experiences; platforms to speak of my journey into writing to interested people. As for using the library on a regular basis I have to admit that I don’t. I am torn between using the library and the need to support my favourite local bookshop Horatio’s in Ampthill, with an apostrophe that is! I would be upset if either closed.
During my talks I am aware that other main libray users are people in retirement with more time on their hands to read and less disposable income, especially due to extremely low interest rates on their savings in the last few years. The library is a fantastic, endless resource of reading matter of their choice but it is also a meeting place and somewhere with internet access if they have no computer at home. In the larger libraries there is often a cafe too. The other group, who may have more time to spare to enrich their lives by reading library books, are those unfortunate to be not employed for whatever reason.
With all this in mind I fully support campaigns to keep our local libraries open but like any othet local facility, if you don’t use it, you lose it!
What do you do to support your libraries? Do let me know.
Another surprising use of Ampthill library I’ve just discovered in looking for photos is on the blog of Nadine Dorris. Here you can find a picture of the friendly staff at Ampthill library praised for looking after the MP during her surgery.