Thursday, 14 April 2011
L is for ..... Libraries
Up until a couple of months ago, I used to work in a town library.
Unlike this picture, from Trinity College, Dublin, it was quite modern design, all curved walls and glass. It had the distinction of being the first library of the new millenium opened in England, in March 2000, and was the busiest in the county with around two thousand visitors per day.
The public library of yesteryear has changed beyond recognition, at least here in the UK, anyway! Now they are one-stop-shops for all manner of things! My former work place had thirty public-use computers; housed the local Tax Office; offered Adult Career guidance and supplied CDs, audio-novels, DVDs……….and books!
Libraries, however, are under threat in the UK. Budget cuts are forcing some councils to close them, due to lack of use. There may be a number of reasons for this including the fact that books are relatively cheap to buy, especially via online services or that people have more leisure pursuits and ‘reading’ has to compete with a variety of other interests.
In the last three months before I left, we also had to cope with the introduction of self-service issue and return machines! Some customers were not impressed – and voted with their feet! I wished I had £1 for every time someone said “Oh, I suppose that’ll be you out of a job!” Thanks – that really made my day!
Libraries, I hope, will still be around for some time to come – but they may not look or function as they once did. In the meantime, we need to keep them in use, now – or the free public library service may be taken away from us forever!
So if you are a member of a library please visit regularly and if you’re not, then why not join? You’ll find information on everything from ‘Aardvarks’ to ‘Zymurgy’ – maybe even in the fiction section!
(after all, when the oil runs out and our electronic-based society has to be rationed, you’ll be glad of a good book!)