This guest blog post from Hilary Chittenden explains why she and Victoria started their “Celebrate your library” project.
My mum has worked in public libraries for nearly a decade now, and I have always loved hearing about the huge variety of people that she interacts with on a daily basis. In one single day she can act as a teacher, friend, children’s entertainer, information point – all depending on what the public want to use the library for. It dawned on me that libraries are so much more than books but are molded by the people that use them. They mean something different to every person that walks through their doors and the library users are what make libraries so great. Yes, we all know that books are brill, that libraries play an important role in children’s educational development and allow people of all ages and backgrounds access to books and information, but what about the social importance of libraries? I asked people the simple question “Why do you love your library?”:
“The library feels like the hub of the community. We recently moved to the area and going to the library has not only provided fantastic reading material for the whole family but also it has made us feel part of the community.”
“The library has been a lifeline since I had a baby… It enables parents to socialise when they may be isolated”
“I enjoy coming in to read the papers and borrow the books. It gives me something to do during the day.”
“Since moving here two years ago I have met many mums who have similar aged children. I especially like my library because the staff are soooo welcoming and hands on with the children!”
“The ladies in the library, I’ve known them for a long long time. They know me and I know them and they are so helpful. If I ever need any information they go on the computer and they print it off for me.”
“We’ve been coming to the library since we came to the country. It was great when we had just moved and didn’t have the internet.”
“I’m out of work at the moment, and the library provides me with a work place environment and office style facilities so I can concentrate better on finding work.”
“When I’m home from uni in the holidays I come here to do my revision. It’s a focused space, nice and quiet and I can’t work well at home. I use it for the desk space – I come in and get my head down.”
“I’m learning English. My sister teaches me and I come in and read to get better. I bring my children to read the picture books and stories. I love the library.”
“We get a lot of people coming in to the library that I worry about – where can they go, who they can talk to, when we’re closed for Christmas.”
“It became more important when my husband died… It allows me to escape.”
This small selection is just a handful of the overwhelming feedback I received from speaking to library users up and down the country. There were so many touching and varied reasons that people loved and relied on their libraries. This inspired me to start ‘Celebrate my Library’ to do just that – to share all the reasons beyond the books that libraries are so important to peoples lives. Our ultimate aim is to help people who don’t yet use libraries to see how much they can better your life (but it’s early days yet.)
For now we are concentrating on speaking to as many people as we can about why they love their libraries. We have been working with 8 different councils around the country, and are planning some events that will collect and circulate people’s love for libraries. Our next endeavor is going to be a children’s poetry/story writing competition along the “I love my library” theme with successful applications being teamed up with illustrators to create a beautiful book and exhibition. We then plan to use the funds raised to publish a newspaper of all the different reasons that people love their libraries and circulate it… (phew!) but like I said, it’s early days yet!
Our main aim right now is to spread the word – Celebrate your library! And not just for the books.
If you want to know more about our project, get involved or tell us why YOU celebrate your library, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our blog at www. celebratemylibrary.tumblr.com/.
We’d love to hear from you.
Hilary and Victoria