Save our libraries, oh please

Posted: February 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

The issue of libraries has been much in the news this last week. I can’t get too fervent because I now live in the sticks and there is only a travelling library that comes but once a fortnight to the village more than three miles away. But I’m very sure that it would be a downturn in national life to close them or allow them to close. Tantamount to removing some of the genes from the self-development pool.

Just think how books such as these Malcolm Saville ones contributed to the creation of books such as the Lothian Dragon series pictured in the last post. The dragons are totally up to date in style yet the stories bear some of the same genes.

I am one of those who relied extensively on libraries when younger. I ran out of “junior” books and was allowed to roam into “senior” territory before time. I still remember a couple of fabulous books I would love to lay hands on again – one about someone who trained to be an architect (not a text book but fiction set around a boy making this his career) and one set in Thailand or Laos or somewhere that didn’t register at the time (hence my muddle now) but which fired me up to write.

I understand that libraries have now added cafés and ICT and other services to their fortifications, but there are three things I would advise from my brief forays inside libraries recently that would also enhance their chances of surviving.

1 Find some way of putting as many books as possible facing outwards. Covers attract. A local school library has managed this – though of course they may have fewer books and more space in which to display. You don’t grab book spines. Books covers grab you.

2 Invite many more schools in to have author sessions. There’s nothing like being among books to engender a heightened sense of wonder as you hear an author read. The sub-text is “books are magical”.

3 Introduce an opportunity – such as Borders used to have – for readers to put short reviews on a shelf near the book. Buyers on Amazon and elsewhere regularly check out reviews before buying. Why not in the local library?

Well, that’s my contribution to the library debate. To me, it’s as obvious as not destroying our forests. Woods..trees…paper…books…? There has to be a connection.


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