I'm pretty tired today, and Thursdays are my heaviest day in terms of work. Before you feel sorry for me, I have to say that the reason I'm tired is because after coming home from jive night and going to bed (as I should have done) I ended up staying up reading trashy fiction. (Just one more chapter and then I'll go to sleep.... honest...). This is not particularly unusual - which is a shame because I always feel a bit lopsided the next day.
I work in a University, so I am almost continuously in the library. I've gotten to know all the staff on the Welcome Desk and a fair few of the cafe staff. Not only that, but in my spare time when I'm not at work I go to the library in town located in the Beaney Institute where I borrow books and then hang out in the cafe drinking good coffee for hours on end. (I also know quite a few of the staff there, including the delightful Miss H).One of my favourite things in the world is to curl up in a cafe reading a good book and this would not be possible for me without libraries. We have bookshops, and second hand bookshops, but the rate at which I read it would cost me a fortune if I didn't have a library near by. I am a voracious reader and I'm more than happy to read some books again and again, but some of them you just want to run through once and then pass them on to other people.
The first libraries consisted of archives of early writings, organised from about 2600 BCE. The first lending library in England that was not linked with an institution was set up in 1598 in Grantham, Lincolnshire.With increased literacy came more demand for libraries, so 1877 more than 75 cities had libraries, and by 1900 the figure reached 300. These days, libraries are having to branch out and innovate - one friend of mine who has chronic fatigue used to go online and download library books for her kindle which then erased themselves after three weeks (when they were due back, as it were). For myself I love just going to the library and browsing to see what is there - I've ended up reading the most unexpected things because I spotted them in the shelves. I've always found librarians to be helpful and generally charming. But more than that, I think of libraries as being comfortable and homely, full of exciting things just waiting to be read, to be discovered. And most of all, I love that this is a free service, that is open to anyone who can be bothered to apply for a library card. Not only do I get to read, but everyone else does too, which leads to book clubs, and reading groups, and all sorts of other community bonding. There is nothing more lovely than discovering that someone else loves libraries too.
These valuable services are being increasingly shut down. I think most people won't notice how important they are until they are gone. Until then, I for one will be supporting my local library as much as possible. I hope you are too.