Wednesday, 19 October 2011

What Libraries mean to me.

This blog has developed a bit of a theme of late. It may seem like I’m on my soapbox, but I passionately believe that Libraries are of huge value to society. Of course I’m going to say that, I’m a Librarian, I have a vested interest. BUT, imagine a world with no Libraries! No access to free information. No reading for pleasure unless I can afford to buy books. No access to literature for researchers or students beyond what they manage to buy or collect. How long would it be before someone came up with the idea of a central place where the collected information was held where everyone could access it and even borrow it? I suspect not long, it’s how libraries came about in the first place. If I was suddenly to lose my job (touching wood as we speak) the first place I would go after the job centre, would be the Library. I don’t have access to the internet or a computer at home so I HAVE to use Libraries. Take that away from me and I have NO ACCESS TO INFORMATION. I along with 9 million other people in this country am condemned, most because they cannot afford to get access. The government wants to get these people online. They already have, they've got Libraries.

I'm lucky to Live in Liverpool as Libraries are important to Liverpool. It is thanks to, amongst others, a Liverpool Politician, that Parliament passed the first Public Libraries Act in 1845. Stand and be counted William Ewart! The first Public Library was opened in Duke Street on 18th October 1852. 159 years ago yesterday. The second city in the UK to do so after Manchester. What might be most interesting, given why so many libraries are closing at the moment is that our main city library on William Brown Street, was donated by a Banker. I’ll leave you to consider the irony of that. I still visit the library I first remember from childhood on a regular basis. It is and always will be a welcoming place for me. Until very recently, and due to retirement, I recognised the staff in there. I know it’s smell and the feel of the steps leading up to it beneath my feet. It has been a part of my everyday life since I was 5. It has been a part of many people’s everyday life for a long time. Libraries helped me confirm the dates in this post. So I will write about Libraries here, on my everyday blog, because for me, Libraries are about the everyday. They are about work and fun and study and entertainment and life. Libraries are integrated in the lives of people living in my beautiful city, up and down my wonderful country and all across this amazing world in which we live. When we close a Library, we close access to ourselves. We close our minds. We close our children’s minds and mute the voices of our ancestors.

Glasgow, Eric (1997) The origins of the Liverpool public libraries. Library Review 46 (4) 262-267

1 comment:

Angel Jem said...

There is/was no irony in a banker funding the library. It was called Acts of Charity and meant rich people could have a lot of money and not feel guilty because they'd been good with a little bit of it. Now they just get lots of money and have no guilt without spending a penny. Wish we could get a little bit more of the munificent spirit going again.