As some of you may have heard, today (4 February) is the first ever National Libraries Day. In the face of devastating cuts to public services such as libraries, 32 have closed so far in the UK, it is so important for people to support their local libraries. Hundreds of events are taking place throughout the day, including ones involving authors such as Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson.
In addition, a fantastic book called The Library Book has been created in collaboration with some of the country’s top writers to celebrate the day. The Library Book, available to borrow in your local library or purchase online, features (you guessed it) stories about libraries, real and fictitious, and what they mean to different people. For example, Tom Holland goes back in time to discuss ancient libraries; Seth Godin describes what he thinks a library will look like in 2020; and rather randomly, Singh Kohli talks of the time he met his first punk. With other contributors including novelist Kate Mosse, Stephen Fry and the ever-witty Times columnist Caitlin Moran, The Library Book will be a great asset to National Libraries Day and libraries in general.
This is increasingly more important with the recent statistics that one in three children does not own a book and one in four adults has not read a book in the last year. Reading is not only a necessary skill for children to learn, but it is so rewarding too. I cannot imagine ever not reading books. They were such an essential part of my life growing up; they inspired me to be imaginative and curious about the world. If it were not for my schools and my local libraries, I would not have discovered some of my favourite fantasy books such as C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. The thought that thousands of children are missing out on the joy of reading is terribly sad and this is why we really need to get behind our libraries. If the predictions of last year do turn out to be true, then around 600 libraries will close, depriving even more kids.
So, borrow the latest titles, whether they’re tacky, thrilling or gruesome, get your Kindle out to access e-book loans, and persuade all of your friends to pick up that book they’ve been reading the first chapter of for a year. Let’s make the legacy of National Libraries Day a good one.
For more information on National Libraries Day, visit their website.