In this post, I want to discuss why libraries are important, because it's a topic close to my heart and one that I think we should be devoting greater attention to. I think a library is, alongside a hospital and a school, one of the most integral parts of a community. I don't know what I would have done without a library when I was growing up, so often did I use it. As more and more libraries are forced to close, or turned into digital-only libraries (which, and I know not everyone will agree with me, is sacrilege in my opinion), it's essential that we remember why libraries are important, and we continue to support our local libraries and the wonderful people who run them.
Ok, so when discussing why libraries are important, this ranks pretty highly. We all have to go to school, but these aren't always the hallowed halls of learning we wish they were. What about the kids who, for whatever reason, find it difficult to do their homework at home? They come here. The kids that can't afford the books and computers they need to do their work properly? They come here. Or, how about the people who can't afford college or university, but don't want to stop learning? They come here.
2. Staying Connected
Surprising as it may seem nowadays, not everyone has access to computers and the internet. For any young person, that is important, for social and work purposes. Libraries offer that resource - in fact, they're placing more of an emphasis on it than ever before.
3. Lovely Librarians
Who was it who said that librarians are just like search engines, except they smile, try their best to help you and they have hearts? I don't think it can be summed up better than that. The librarians I've met have been cool - they love books and they want to help you to love them, too.
4. Summer Fun
I'm not sure whether this is the same everywhere or not, but in the UK, our libraries tend to devise some kind of project or reading challenge for kids during the summer holidays. Not every kid has parents who can take them on fun days out, or friends they can spend all their time with. These kinds of free activities are brilliant for them, and they're also a great method of getting kids to learn in a fun way, a way that isn't associated with school.
If you're a fiction reader, then you will understand me when I say that stories have the answer to every question you have and the resolution to every bad mood you have. The library is the place where all these wonderful feats of the imagination are housed - we should be worshiping here!
A library is, above all else, a refuge and we should always, always remember that. How many (warm, inside) places can you think of that are free to go and be in for as long as you like, with free entertainment, for absolutely everyone who wants to cross their threshold? I can think of very few. Libraries have always been a sort of haven, for as long as they've existed. We can't afford to lose such a worthy tradition.
That being said, libraries and what's within them have often been a subject of controversy, throughout the ages. Books have always presented a kind of challenge to conformity and we need libraries to help keep this challenge a talking point. What books should or shouldn't have a presence? What about library art - what's suitable and what isn't? Libraries keep the issue of censorship very much alive; they challenge us to read outside our comfort zones and open our minds without condemnation.
These represent just a few reasons why our libraries are important - but really, it's impossible to say why in so small a space. Because they're filled with the stories, books and resources that change people's lives, and they give you these things for free. What do libraries mean to you?