My Library By Right

In July, I visited Bloxwich library in Walsall to award some prizes to local schoolkids and chat about writing.  Earlier in the day I had visited a school that was taking part and spoken to a group of Year 5 & 6 kids.  The whole project was designed to get kids, particularly ‘reluctant readers’, to engage with books and writing in a way that they hadn’t before.  The whole event was wonderful and dozens of kids went away inspired to read new stories and write their own.

It was one of a few library visits that I have done in 2016.  Everywhere I have been it has been clear to me the kind of role a library plays in the life of a community.  Yes, they are places where people can read books and borrow books but they are so much more than that.  All the libraries I have visited have extensive computer suites, all of them are in constant use, a lot of them by people who don’t have a computer at home or who need help doing something online.  All the libraries have wonderful children’s areas where kids are encouraged to read and chat about books.  All have reading groups.  All invite speakers in to chat about a wide range of subjects.  All have comfy chairs and are warm.  All have great collections of graphic novels, DVDs, and computer games.  All have large reference facilities.  And all have bright, engaging, helpful librarians on hand to make recommendations, or be your IT support, offer literacy help, run school holiday challenges, as well as a million other things that I don’t even know about that make a library function and run smoothly.

Here are two extraordinary about libraries.

1.     They’re FREE.  This means that they are for everyone, especially the people who need them the most.

2.     They are being SHUT DOWN.  This means for everyone, especially the people who need them the most.

In Walsall alone, 15 out of 16 libraries are under threat of closure.  This is unacceptable.  You have to ask yourself what kind of world do we want for ourselves, for our kids, for each other?  What does it say about our society that we choose to destroy these temples of enlightenment, these pillars of civilisation and target the weak, the vulnerable, those with most to lose?

If you want to know more about the personal, cultural, political and societal benefits of literacy then here’s a very nifty UNESCO report.  Libraries are vital to this process.  They give people access to books, information and other people interested in reading and understanding.

So read THIS and understand that libraries are yours by right but it looks like we’re going to have to fight like hell for them.  Please sign the petition now.

Thanks for listening.