According to a recent UK report, up to 60% of people in Britain did not visit their public library in the last year. There is talk of locating libraries in supermarkets and of closing branches.
I hope this doesn't happen. I'm a huge fan of libraries and always have been. I would go to my local library with my parents and at that time the West Riding Library system was world-famous for its efficiency and class. True, the librarian tended to hover round me suspiciously, but the FREE BOOKS were wonderful.
That's the thing. Libraries are free. Which is amazing. Anyone can use a library. Anyone can join a library and take out books, videos, audio-books, and more, FOR FREE.
Why are people not using this? I don't understand it.
Libraries are also amazingly child-friendly these days. There are regular events aimed at children - contests and author days and more. The books are bright and inter-active.
Adults are well served, too. There are QUICK READS for those who fancy a swift, engaging story. There are novels shelved by genre, just as in bookshops. There are books in large print and in audio. In larger libraries there are events where local authors will chat about their work, or reading groups. (I must admit I take issue with reading groups because they never choose category romance or category westerns or war and I wonder why not.)
Libraries help people. A librarian will help you if you ask, or will know someone who will be able to help you. If you want to learn about astro-physics or rose pruning, the library will have books and other information on these subjects.
Libraries can come out to people, too - through mobiles and home-loans.
For a writer, a library can provide a place to meet - I know of several local writing groups who meet in their local libraries. The library can stock your books and you will receive Public Lending Right money each time one of your books is issued. You can set up an author chat in your library.
And it's all FREE.
My local library have always bought my books. I'm looking forward to libraries becoming fully 'wired' and able to issue ebooks, too, which will bring these great places fully into the 21st century.
My perfect library would look like this (and some already do):
1. A large children's section, full of books, games, toys and more books.
2. Long opening hours, especially during evenings and weekends.
3. Plenty of computers so everyone can browse the latest ebooks.
4. Stacks of books of all kinds and genres.
5. Tea and coffee available, so the library is partly a coffee house.
What would your perfect library be like?