I, of course, do not mean my title literally – the whole point of library books is that you cannot keep them forever (the fine would be extortionate) but I mean it in the sense that I think libraries are one of the greatest services this country has.
When I was at primary school, I volunteered (along with 3 other girls) to be a class librarian and spent my lunch breaks keeping the library in order – sorting out all the book returns and making sure all the cards (no digital logging system then) were up to date. It might sound insanely geeky, but I loved it. So you can see, my appreciation of the library started at a young age.
Now, I find them brilliant on a practical level, I just don’t have space in my house to keep all the books I read – so returning them once read is ideal. And there is nothing worse than just having spent £10 on a book, only to discover a few pages in that you are not enjoying it and it’s basically a waste of money. Not a problem with a library book – return and move on. There are just too many books in the world to take up valuable reading time on one that is not for you.
But what I really love about them is they are such great community hubs, encouraging people to come and read books and magazines, browse the internet, have a coffee or join a study group. The service they provide is integral to everyone feeling there is a place they can go, don’t have to spend any money but can gain access to so much information and knowledge.
Now I have a baby, I’ve discovered that the library is just a gift that keeps on giving. Rhyme Time now fits firmly into my schedule, it’s a great little initiative where the librarians grab a box full of tambourines and sing nursery rhymes with toddlers for half an hour, a few times a week. Nothing to do with reading but everything to do with creating a wonderful service for the community and a space for children to have fun, and if your child is drawn to a book while they’re there, all the better.
I’ll end by drawing your eyes to the image above – a wonderful mosaic outside one of my local libraries, it enchants me every time I see it, such a simple yet striking idea and, quite frankly, yet another reason to love the library.