I keep hearing that people don’t need libraries because “books are cheap and everyone can afford them.”
Well could I buy what I read? Let’s see….
Probably yes to the recent PD James titles, I know I’m going to enjoy them, popular author, bound to find some in the charity shop.
I doubt I’d have discovered Jed Mercurio or Justin Cartwright.
I certainly wouldn’t have read all 11 Volumes of C P Snow’s Strangers and Brothers.
Would I have even tried authors, like Dorothy Whipple who go in and out of vogue every 20 years?
For over 30 years I have kept a list of fiction authors whose work I want to read more of. Now standing at 293 authors, how could I buy all of their titles?
I’m currently browsing £70 worth of art books. Without the library would I have made the leap from the impressionists that we are all familiar with to Bonnard and onwards to Barbara Rae? Would I have discovered Nevinson and Ravillious, would I have investigated the connections in British art that led me to visit the wonderful Kettles Yard?
In music, I started with Mozart and thanks to the Surrey Performing Arts library I discovered the world of choral music. Thomas Tallis and William Byrd yes I have bought them, after listening to library copies but you don’t often find John Sheppard in the budget CDs.
Casually picking up a Si Fi book as I did at 12 in the school library introduced me to the great Arthur C Clarke and on to Asimov’s robots. Forty years later I’m still interested and still trying to understand Stephen Hawking and sort my quasars from my quarks.
If I didn’t read non fiction books about Tudor England I wouldn’t have got so much from the portrait of Cromwell that Hilary Mantel paints in Wolf Hall.
And so it goes on and on……. Something sparks your interest and the library lets you investigate and learn.
I’m glad libraries have online resources and ebooks and social networks and apps – yes I can imagine an enthusiastic library user who is rarely seen in the library.
I do think there is a place for volunteers to allow libraries to offer even more. My friend in the US volunteers 7 hours a week and treats it as seriously as her previous profession.
Please libraries get a move on with national funding, a national library card, national online resources and free inter library loans and revamp the joint fiction reserve idea.
And to the people who tell us that the phrase “huge financial reduction” means the same as “a great opportunity for the future” they just need a dictionary! I suggest they try in the library.