Sophie’s story

My love of public libraries!

From a very young age I remember the thrill of being taken into my local library (Coxheath library in Maidstone) and having access to a multitude of books. Not only that but welcoming staff were on hand to advise and help me choose from the wide range of books. As I grew older it was still a thrill to be able to choose whatever book I wanted and being able to access so many different worlds and cultures. I do believe that was my first chance to choose for myself and make my own decisions, but even better I could make those decisions within the safety and comfort of the library.

As a student I discovered the other side of libraries and began using non-fiction for the first time. This was like a whole new discovery and just led me to rely on libraries even more! It was due to my early love of libraries that I eventually ended up working in one. I dallied in both medical and academic libraries before realising that public libraries were of such valuable importance and I wanted to contribute to their vital functions. I have now worked my way up to a Community Librarian post and am grateful that every day I am still learning. The impact that libraries can make on the local community is incredible. This is achieved not only by bringing people into libraries but the invaluable Outreach work that is done by many library staff. From a visit into a Children’s Centre or preschool right up to a visit to a nursing home – every age range is reached and the input from the library is invaluable to them.

For me there is nothing more rewarding than visiting a school and then a few days or weeks later meeting a child that was part of that visit – who after the visit has come into the library. It means that the simple act of storytelling can have made an immense difference to that child. To the point that the child has now gone from the confines of the school and ventured into the library and even better they have bought their parent or carer with them. If I can instill the love of the library that I have into the next generation then I feel as if I am doing my job successfully and reaching out to those who may not know how special public libraries really are.

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