Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Love your library!

I know that I'm a little biased about libraries. They are, quite obviously, important to me. However, they are not just my livelihood. Libraries are an integral part of who I am.

My earliest memories of books and libraries are all wrapped up together. We had a library basket, a big cane one, that was always kept in the one place. We trooped to our local library every Saturday morning, as part of a ritual I have continued with my own family. Saturday is library-and-morning-tea-day. Although Newcastle doesn't have anything like the Moons Bakery of my memory (which may now reside in Uralla, and not in Armidale Mall), it certainly doesn't lack for places to buy good food to eat.

Neither does it lack for libraries. My local library is the beautiful Wallsend District Library, and if you haven't yet been, I recommend that you go. It is Newcastle's newest library, and well worth a visit. The exhibition space is always worth checking out, as is the artwork around the library - especially the charcoal drawing in the Young Adult area, and the storyboards for Puttikan hanging in the Children's Section.

But don't neglect the others! They all have their charm, and different selections. My parents continue the family routine at Hamilton Library, and New Lambton Library is wonderfully hectic on a Saturday morning, with the Toy Library (run by volunteers) downstairs. City Library houses not only the lending library on the ground floor, but also the Information and Research Centre on the first floor (with extended stack collection in the basement), and the Lovett Gallery and Local Studies Section on the second floor. Mayfield Library has quite a selection of horror books, and the gardens at Lambton Library are truly spectacular. I could go on about the other branches, but I really think you should go visit them yourself.

To get back to the point of this post...

As a lover of libraries, and everything they represent, I was extremely gratified to come across the following two articles. Although they touch on the same issue, they showcase vastly different perspectives. The first, a story about mysterious paper sculptures apearing in Scottish libraries, highlights how deeply libraries can inspire and influence someone on a very personal level. The second, about a successful campaign against the closure of libraries in Britain, shows that libraries are an essential service, and are there for everyone, no matter what age, race, gender, religion, ability, economic status, etc. For those of you who are legally inclined, you can read the full text of the decision mentioned in the second article here.

In a time when the finances seem to be continually stretched, book shops are disappearing, and everything seems to be online, I find it quite scary that libraries around the world are facing closure. Where will we go to use computers, if we can't afford them, or if our personal computers break down? How will our children learn valuable research skills, to expand their horizons, to explore and question? Where will we go to find a BOOK?

Enjoy your local library!

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