I wanted to share a story with you about a recent visit to a library in Norwich. I was there for a private view of children’s photography, but the family I would like to mention were not there for that event, and are, I believe, regular visitors. As expected, we had a lot of families attend the private view and there were quite a lot of smartly dressed Mums and Dads, the Mayor, and Head Teachers. Then in came a Dad with two little girls, who were both in their pyjamas. The organiser of our event approached the Dad and offered him the brochure for the photography, the Dad explained he wasn’t there for that reason. He proceeded over to the children’s section and sat with his two children and read to them what I can only presume to be their usual bedtime story. It was lovely to be at the library for our event. lovely that so many families showed up to support the work of their children, lovely to see our dignitaries, but all this was overshadowed for me by the absolute privilege of seeing the public library used by this caring father, reading to his two young daughters. I can make all kinds of assumptions about the home they had come from – maybe without a book for bedtime. But what stayed with me was that these two little girls might grow up with the memories of dusk-time strolls, after dinner, to a cosy library full of wonderful books, and a cuddle with their Dad.
Don't just listen - read! (c) Phil Bradley / Flickr
When I was doing an external course at Kings College, University of London in 2000, the only way to receive a confidential preview of the 1st yr exam was by fax from Kings to Cambridge Central library, and this was sent to my local library. They then emailed me to say I could collect it and read it. The real exam would be in London the following week.
This was a public service for me. I also had the chance to order COPAC items online, borrowed for free, in my local library.
This is an essential service for rural adult students.
Voices for the Library are pleased to have permission to embed this interview Phillip Pullman gave to Oxford SOS.
In it, Pullman says:
Every encounter with a library is a personal one. Everyone finds a different sort of joy in the library, a different sort of pleasure. You never forget your first encounter with libraries … If libraries are important to you, in a personal way – if you remember your first encounter with libraries, write it down and send it to your local councillor. and your MP. and the Cuts Alliance. The more stories of this kind that we have, the powerful the case will be that we make.
We believe in the power of stories, and would like to help you share yours. Contact us at email@example.com. You can contact your local councillors and MPs through http://www.writetothem.com/.
Philip Pullman Interview from Pete Speller and Zoe Broughton on Vimeo.
Voices for the Library know the power and value of stories, and we are proud that so many library users from across the country have shared their stories with us. The British Library also recognises the value of user stories – Fiona McCarthy from the British Library tells us a bit more about their new ‘Your Stories’ webpages.
What sorts of secrets are held within the British Library’s Reading Rooms? Did you know that readers have used the British Library to support their first-hand account of the opium problems in Afghanistan, to research their storylines for ‘Foyle’s War’, and to create easy-to-understand information for patients with complex medical conditions?
We know that famous figures such as Karl Marx, Virginia Woolf and Oscar Wilde are noted Library-users from the past, but there are plenty of great researchers currently visiting our St Pancras site. And we were keen to discover the successes that we are helping people achieve, and persuade them not to be shy!
So, to uncover and celebrate the many achievements we’ve helped readers reach, we’ve just launched the new, eye-catching ‘Your Stories’ web pages at www.bl.uk/yourstories. This is a chance for researchers to submit their own success story electronically, including videos and pictures. It’s a great opportunity for people to show how the British Library has helped them reach their goal.
You can be inspired by videos from Sandi Toksvig, Margaret Drabble and Anthony Horowitz, and see the personal tales from people whose achievements range from directing a highly acclaimed film, to forecasting volcanic eruptions and launching innovative pet products. As well as dipping into a host of fascinating examples on the site, you can add your own comments to them too. And all these impressive successes promoted here have been possible thanks to the collections and services we offer!
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