By this point, you all know that I like bookshops.
I like them because they are places where adventures start, conversations happen and lives are changed. The only other place in the world that can have the same influence on the development of imagination and a love of reading in a child is a library.
Many of you have commented telling me the stories of how you became life-long bibliophiles. For some, like me, the journey began in an independent bookshop in your area, but for many others, it was the local library which got you hooked.
With that in mind and because, coincidentally, it is National Library Week in America, I’d like to ask you to do me a solid.
A few years ago, Margaret Atwood did something great. Okay, she probably did a lot of great things but one of my favourites was that she lent her support and star-power to a campaign to stop proposed cuts to the public library system in Toronto. As someone who lived in Toronto for many years, I can tell you that its public library system is one of the best in the world; I often refer to it as ‘the one thing Canadians do better than the Brits.’ I cannot tell you how useful the Reference Library at Yonge and Bloor has been to me over the years or how many childhood hours I spent at the Deer Park branch buried in picture books.
I signed a petition a few years ago to help this campaign and got signed up to their mailing list. Last night I got an email explaining that a new provincial leader has just come into office and is in the process of reviewing the budget, so this is the perfect time to petition the government for some of the funding for public libraries province-wide to be restored after years of successive cuts.
If you have fond memories of a public library where your love of reading was fostered as a child, if you still use one today for the odd research project or better still, if you frequently use your local library as your primary source for new books, please sign the petition to give back some of the funding to Ontario’s libraries. It takes about a minute and you can opt out of future emails from them.
And while we’re at it, Happy National Library Week if you’re in America and for those of us in the UK and elsewhere, well, shall we just pretend?