Thursday, 10 February 2011

Do As I Say

In my little world Thursdays are library days. Every Thursday I go to my local library (Thursday and Friday are the days they get orders in from other libraries in the county) and it’s never very busy. Even when I go in on Saturdays it’s never exactly packed out.

There has been so much talk of libraries lately that I have been thinking about what people are generally saying and it seems to largely be a case of 'do as I say not as I do'. I really believe that most people do not go to libraries, and it's why they are under threat.

I love libraries, I spend hours in them and whenever I travel my first draw is to the library. I've been going to my village library since I was about 4 years old and have spent a huge amount of time there. When I was much younger I almost lived there for two summers while they had a summer reading scheme that I was doing. Admittedly my library is a small local one and it's not open all of the time but they have a pretty good selection and are amazing at helping people out.

My village has about 3,500 people in it and it costs £1.10 to get the library to order a book/DVD/CD etc. Surely if people were using these services more, funding would be less of a problem. Perhaps I am being na├»ve but rather than spending one Saturday at the library to show how angry one is at funding cuts would it not be better to go every month or two and actually use the library for its real purpose. I wonder if the fees these days put people off going or if the fees are so expensive now because people are rarely there and so the libraries need the money more.
I don’t tend to talk about topical issues online because 1.) I get dragged into debates easily and am rubbish at knowing when to shut up and 2.) the internet has a long memory and I know that I contradict myself and there are a lot of things I’ve not decided yet. However, libraries I have always and hopefully will always love.

My first stop in about 90% of the places that I visit is to the library. I have five library cards in the UK from using libraries when I’ve been on holiday. I have also visited libraries in Philadelphia, Nashville, Venice, Washington D.C., Rome, Seattle, Munich, Chicago, Sydney, New York City, Melbourne, Baltimore, Little Rock, Portland and Adelaide. The pictures in here are from the Philly public library.

There's really only two points here (not being very concise today). One is that libraries are amazing. Two is that if you ever want a favour then ask me on a Thursday.


1 comment:

  1. You've pretty much covered what I thought at the time, but didn't bother saying because people were being all righteous and protesty.

    Libraries will never turn a profit. It just isn't possible. Hell, full on book shops are having a hard enough time of it lately.

    Bear in mind that a rare book that someone makes the library buy may only ever be taken out by that one person and, if an inter-library loan (only possible in the local area) isn't possible, the library has to pay full retail price for every item. Libraries are not allowed to order to cheap items from Amazon or Play.

    If people use fees as an excuse then shout them down. The fees are miniscule compared to going to a book shop or renting a DVD from Blockbuster.

    People should use their libraries more, but they probably won't. Not until libraries get some proper investment (haha) and actually decide nationally what their purpose is in the 21st century. Good luck getting anyone in the current government to champion that.