I genuinely believe public libraries exist for the good of the people and they deserve to be bragged about. I am going to be telling you about some of the things that I think are great about public libraries but I am also going to tell you some things that are not so great.
Who am I kidding, public libraries are great. What’s not so great is the fact that we have to actually speak up for libraries in the first place, defend them and justify their existence and relevance. The way the media portrays libraries also doesn’t help the situation but of course they wouldn’t have any attention grabbing news stories if they simply reported on the fantastic, everyday occurrences that take place in libraries. Instead headlines such as ‘UK libraries out of use by 2020’ grab the readers… The positive stories that come out of libraries just don’t make the news. The negative stories in the news are actually quite dangerous! They suggest our libraries are riddled with underachievement, failures and underperformance which absolutely contradicts what library staff are doing on the ground. It is unfair to make these assumptions and to share them in the news where everybody believes what they read. Library staff make positive contributions to members of society every day and stories such as these are simply untrue. Utter garbage actually! With the advent of the internet and popularity of e-resources libraries have been deemed to be “no longer relevant”. If you agree with Terry Deary, then you clearly don’t know what you’re talking about (to put it politely).
See below for short videos from the three libraries that have been shortlisted for the CILIP Libraries Change Lives Award
Libraries provide vital services to people from all walks of life under the convenience of one roof. They offer a sense of community, they are nice places to spend time, they encourage you to learn, provide endless amounts of information, free to use books and e-books, parents don’t have to face the daunting homework task alone, local history, family history, language support, book groups, supporting businesses, teaching people how to research and make informed decisions, helping people find legal information, getting people online, boosting people’s confidence, encouraging reading, supporting the elderly… what’s not to like?
Nick Poole puts it best “public libraries provide everyone with opportunities for learning and inspiration. They help people find work and set up their own business. Libraries are places where children and young people discover the joys of reading, learn new skills like coding and get help with their homework. They tackle social exclusion and isolation. They improve health and wellbeing and help people get online. Everyone is welcome and the space belongs to the public, which is increasingly rare in our communities.” (Nick Poole, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals)
Around 15% of Brits do not have access to the internet at home. Can you think of a place where they can go to use the internet for free and get support in doing so? Even if people do have access to the internet at home, it doesn’t mean necessarily mean they know how to use it. I’ve recently been volunteering in my local public library offering IT taster sessions and it really has opened my eyes to what libraries can offer people and how important they actually are.
Libraries mean a lot to people; they did in the past and they still do today. Check out the Library Stories project for examples of what Sheffield libraries mean to the people http://www.librarystories.co.uk/ and I challenge you to not get emotional! What a great project for library advocacy! They’re on Twitter too https://twitter.com/library_stories
I really liked the Voices for the Library campaign! Some interesting info here about library closures and what you can do about them http://www.voicesforthelibrary.org.uk/campaigns/10-things-you-need-to-know-about-library-closurescampaigns/
P.S. *PREACH* If you don’t have a library card, you need to get one! 🙂 If you really want to be a library advocate, use your library! *PREACH*