Today is National Library Day, which has set me thinking about how much time I spent in our public library when I was a child. Our library was a fairly large one. I looked at the huge number of shelves stocked full of books, and imagined that I would read every single book in that library. I didn’t know at the time that this was not humanly possible, nor did I realize that there were genres in there I wouldn’t want to read anyway. But it was a high goal which has shaped the rest of my life.
In my adulthood, I have made up for all those books I couldn’t own as a child – my home is chock-a-block with bookshelves bursting with books. I like best to buy at independent bookshops. But I still use libraries to get difficult-to-find titles, to try out a new author, or just to see what surprises I can find. My local library, Hexham, will order books from other libraries in Northumberland, including the splendid Northern Poetry Library at Morpeth. And I am a member of the amazing Lit and Phil Library in Newcastle with its host of hugely interesting titles, its splendid building, and unique ambience.
At this time when so many public libraries are threatened with closure or cutbacks, it is more important than ever to support our local libraries. Remember – the more people who check books out of the library, the more funding they will receive and the more likely the library will remain open. And the independent Lit and Phil Library depends on its membership fees. The future of libraries is in our own hands.