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The Library Book,
This review is from: The Library Book (Hardcover)
When I read the comment, "I have, thanks to twenty years of more-or-less frenzied purchasing, more books than I can now read in a lifetime," (Lucy Mangan) then I know I am in company I understand. This collection of essays, memoirs and stories, are a plea to value and keep our libraries. There are twenty three well known writers who have partipated in this book and they are often amusing, but always with a serious point to make. Several make the point that they owe their career to their local libraries. Val McDermid claims that "being a reader turned me into a writer," and the library is always viewed as a haven, a place of amusement, a place of study, a place of wonder.
In my own life I have worked in libraries, educational rather than local, but I know they are cherished places. They are where I took my own children as toddlers for their first experience of storytime and baby rhyme time sessions. Places I myself studied in, before helping students myself as a librarian. I am a mother, a reading mentor and an obsessive reader. There is a lot to be said not only for keeping libraries open, but for keeping them local. In my own area, we are seeing the closure of small, local libraries and the opening of central libraries. However, Zadie Smith makes the essential point that, "I know I would never have seen a single university library if I had not grown up living a hundred yards from that library in Willesden Green. Local libraries are gateways not only to other libraries, but to other lives." Central libraries require travel and for those children whose parents are not willing or able to make the effort, for the elderly, the ill and the marginalised, local services need to remain just that - within walking distance. Libraries should be the heart of a community - for the young person who has nowhere quiet to study at home they provide peace, for others they provide company and a link to the world.
All royalties from this book go to the Reading Agency's library programmes. Not only is this a good read, but it is in a good cause. We must beware the loss of our local library - once closed, it will never reopen.