Love Your Local Library

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?

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20 responses to “Love Your Local Library

  1. Done! I loved my library as a kid and once spent a very happy afternoon there stamping out books when we were in a car crash and my mum had to deal with the police. I was so happy to find that it’s survived all the cutbacks and is still going. Although the lovely librarians I remember are long gone.

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  2. Great post. I love libraries and I love the idea of libraries. I want libraries to stay open and I believe they play in important role in society. I have signed the petition and have signed a similar petition here in the UK, where there are similar planned mass library closures.

    But it’s a difficult one… I haven’t actually been to a library for years. I think it’s similar-ish to bookshops: many of the people who wail about how awful it is that bookshops are disappearing are the same people who wouldn’t think of shopping anywhere but Amazon. I made a new year’s resolution to only buy books in book shops. I think that I also need to start talking, using and writing about libraries more often too.

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    • I agree completely; it’s all well and good to pay lip service to something, but if you don’t do something about it, what’s the point? I used to go to libraries pretty much every day when I was a kid and loved them as an alternative to studying at home when I was at school, but probably don’t ‘walk the walk’ as much as I should these days. Part of it is that I have access to university libraries for most of the books I need, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t still support public libraries. I realised this a while ago and have been trying to rectify the situation! You’ve inspired me to make good on the rhetoric. Thanks!

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      • Ha. Well, now worries. You’ve already started with this post (and with your blog generally). It’s going to be tough to reverse the trend with both libraries and book shops… I just hope that we can keep them alive.

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  3. Great post! I cleaned out my library last week and was able to donate some of the books to our local library!

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  4. What a great blog post! Thank you. An American here who uses several libraries in my area. I want so many books that I balance my “wants” with borrowing some of the books from the library (versus buying them). It’s just as thrilling for me as coming home with a new book from a bookstore — going to the library to get a copy of a book I want to read, searching the shelves, flipping through the pages in the car in the parking lot, and then seeing it on my reading table for the time I have it. My libraries also have gone through budget cuts, but residents have voted to increase taxes to help them. (I love that!) I cannot imagine a neighborhood without a library. And for what it’s worth, the reason I have the budget challenge is I boycott Amazon and buy in indie bookshops and Barnes & Noble. I don’t like the way Amazon bullies independent bookstores. Anyway, I hope U.K. libraries thrive, and that more people use them and buy their books in bookshops.

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  5. Signed! (I hope it won’t be too weird for them to read a letter from someone abroad, haha!) But really, I just had to support it, since in the Philippines, our libraries are few and aren’t really that great. I grew up wanting to visit some so badly because the books I read that were set in America or Europe mentioned vast public libraries, but alas, the only ones I’ve seen here are university libraries. They’re fantastic, and I’m so proud my university has a great one, but yeah. I still yearn for a public library here. I know so many of my friends abroad have benefited from them–what more would they do here? I hope the petition will help change Premier Wynne’s mind!

    (By the way, thanks for liking one of my entries! I’m so glad you did, since when I checked your blog, I fell in love. Next time I find myself in Europe, I’ll drop by all the bookshops you’ve written about!)

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    • Thanks for the support! I purposely decided to post about this here because I know I have international readers and thought that the comparisons between different systems in other countries would be interesting to people. I’m sure whoever reads the letters will appreciate that you took the time to express your passion for libraries even though this particular issue doesn’t even affect you. I know I do!

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  6. Great post, I hope the love of libraries helps reverse the trend of putting computers in place of books, libraries have just become wondrous again.

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  7. The problem is – this cutting out of the human element doesn’t help. It could hurt on so many levels. Especially the dialogue researchers who have to pour over non-fiction, linking each to the next and drawing conclusions. There are times you really need that Librarian to speak into what you’re doing or suggest. Online shopping or computerized databases cannot have a conversation with you…

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  8. I know you are mostly about books… and I love them myself… but I would also put a word in for the non-book stuff. Most librarians(public, academic, special) work to bring you research databases with historical newspapers, genealogy, scientific research, archives. The work libraries do to create and collect this non-book stuff is critical to the library’s relevance in the 21st century. And I’m not just saying this because I’m a librarian…

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  9. It means a lot that you liked my post, therefore I signed the petition! I told them I was from the UK & how that shouldn’t matter. A library is a library, no matter where you are in the world & they’re the key to knowledge – One of the many keys to life!

    Thanks again
    Bowmer

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  10. Our libraries just went through massive cuts — I guess it was last year, but I just started to feel the effects. Limits on how many books a person can check out, limits on interlibrary loans that really gutted the whole program, more days “closed” per week. Children’s librarians sharing their time between branches. I would love to see that money restored. So, in honor of that will look into the petition, even though it’s not for my own library 🙂

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  11. Thanks for this — I just signed and shared with friends. As a mom, I am a heavy user of our local library…it’s the only way for many families to afford all the early readers, picture books and books on tape that entertain and teach our children. Not to mention the baby book club & early reading programs that encourage literacy. In going with my daughter I also rediscovered the joy of the library for myself — free books!!

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  12. Hi Emily, as another obsessive bibliophile I have always been surrounded by books, at home and have lost count of how many libraries I’ve joined. Good luck with your campaign … great blog by the way.

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  13. Your blog is lovely. I couldn’t agree more with this post. One of the things I love most about where I live is that I can walk to the library–I’m headed there in a little while, actually.

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  14. I love libraries!!! My local one is just filled with really mean kids… it sucks…

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  15. Eileen digweed

    I just love reading, for all my life. Particularly well researched historical fiction. I regard that as ‘real’ history. Wd be interested to hear from you and get involved to in any way I can.

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