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Public libraries

Updated on January 30, 2012

Local Library

I remember being a small child and being taken to our local library by my parents; it was not an experience that I enjoyed. Don't get me wrong, I loved books and would stare in wonderment at the huge choice of books displayed on the racks. The thought of being able to choose some books to borrow filled me with excitement as I spent forever selecting just the right books that would take me on adventures; taking me to fantasy worlds where I could meet fairies and princesses.

There was a downside though, the library was an old Victorian, imposing building and inside had wooden panels on every wall, uncomfortable chairs. I remember the librarian who frowned upon any kind of noise, often putting her fingers to her lips, telling me to be quiet if I had forgotten the "Silence Rule!"

My local library.
My local library.
The newly refurbished interior of my local library.
The newly refurbished interior of my local library.

Visiting the library

Thankfully today, the local libraries have been brought up to date with the 21st century. Our local library is modern, open plan, welcoming, and family friendly. It is more of a meeting place, with designated sections including a toddler area, coffee area, computer suite, comfortable sofas to relax on, a quiet area for studying, homework etc. Technological changes have taken place in the form of borrowing and returning books, which is done at a self check out/in point. Of course, there is still help at hand with the information point which is manned by a few helpful staff.

Libraries are not just for borrowing books, they serve many other functions and have a community spirit about them. Apart from the various book clubs run for children and adults, there are regular workshops on almost every possible subject from crafts to first aid. Writing classes are held each month, talks by authors take place occasionally and computer classes for each stage of learning. Our local library is the hub of the community and popular with every age group, from 0-90years old.

Writers are readers,enhancing much of their knowledge through research and often finding out about the business of writing through reading books.


Library closures

Altogether in the UK there are just under 5,000 libraries. Cash strapped councils up and down the country say that a lack of funding has put the future of the local library under threat. According to C.I.L.I.P. (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals), over 400 libraries have had to close their doors and a further 500-600 more are under real threat as funding is stretched to capacity. It's not just in the U.K. that this is happening, the threat is more global as most countries are suffering financially in these times.

It's a tragedy really as I think that the local library is an essential part of any community. I cannot envisage my local town without the services of the library. Much of the decline has to do with the computer, as most people google answers for research rather than making the trip to the library. The advent of the Kindle must surely have an adverse effect on book borrowing, with technology, a full book can be downloaded to these devices within seconds.

The future

As a parents, readers, writers and part of local communities, it is up to us to try and help our libraries survive these difficult times. There are a number of things that we can do to help:

  • encourage family/friends/children to join the library.
  • set time aside to read a physical book that you can borrow.
  • attend library events.
  • if your local library is under threat of closure, write to your local council or MP and speak up in their defense.
  • look out for upcoming events in the library and show your support by attending some of these.

It would be sad to think that libraries could become a relic of the past, and that future generations may never get to know the wonder of books. Libraries need us to survive, and I will be making a conscious effort to use them more in order that they remain an essential part of the community.

How often do you visit your local library?

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    • jacqui2011 profile image

      jacqui2011 5 years ago from Norfolk, UK

      @ dmop - Thank you for stopping by. Libraries are often the hub of the community and would be sad to see them go. I agree that we all need to make an effort to keep them going. It seems to always be the community that suffers when funding is cut. I appreciate the vote up.

    • jacqui2011 profile image

      jacqui2011 5 years ago from Norfolk, UK

      @ PDXKaraokeGuy - Thank you so much for your comment and the link on your article, which I appreciate. Libraries have so much to offer, and its sad to think that they may become a thing of the past that our grandchildren may never know. I do think that we should all have out say when these local government offices try to close them down. I went to my local library this morning, and there was so much going on - computer classes, story group for toddlers and a used book sale. Thanks again for taking the time to comment on my hub.

    • dmop profile image

      dmop 5 years ago from Cambridge City, IN

      With easy access of the internet it makes since that libraries will slowly loose their perceived importance, but I agree that they are extremely important and should be regarded as such. Communities need to make an effort to keep them going no matter how much funding is taken away. Good article, voted up and useful.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      I like your take on libraries. I recently wrote about my experiences with public libraries here on the hub, and I'll be linking your article there. You can view it here;

    • jacqui2011 profile image

      jacqui2011 6 years ago from Norfolk, UK

      @ ComfortB - It's sad to see the bookstores and libraries closing here. There were 3 bookstores in town and only 1 remains. As you say, its the age of technology, and children have so many gadgets like xbox, wii, kindle etc that libraries don't have the same appeal as they had in my day. It's a real shame as they have gone to so much expense here in the UK to make them welcoming, including cafes, childrens areas and up to the minute computer suites. Thank you for your comments. Best wishes.

    • ComfortB profile image

      Comfort Babatola 6 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

      When my two older kids, now 14 and 15 year olds were just 5 and 6, they used to loved to go to the library everyday.

      Just the other day, my third child (who is 6) asked if I could take him to the library, the older ones looked at him with disgust and asked, "why would anyone want to go to the library?"

      It's the age of technology and kids these days don't have a lot of appreciation for the library like they used to.

      Bookstores all around us are closing, and public libraries may be next.

    • jacqui2011 profile image

      jacqui2011 6 years ago from Norfolk, UK

      @ molometer - Thanks so much for your very valuable comments. Like you, I am so annoyed with the way local amenities are just taken away. As you say, not everyone has a computer and libraries are such a help for children and adults. It's like ripping the heart out of the community. I have written to my local mp to find out the state of play and how many more libraries in the area are set to close, and I will take it from there. I appreciate your comment.

    • molometer profile image

      molometer 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      I would be very sad to see any library close and am very angry that they have closed so many already. I am sure I am not alone in that.

      I and many like me learned so much from this free resource and to take it away is unforgivable.

      Not everyone has a computer and internet no matter what the politicians think. We should form a protest group or something. The libraries must be protected. Sorry for the rant, but this is really not on?

      Thanks for sharing this information and a great hub. I too have fond memories of visiting libraries as a child and still do.

    • jacqui2011 profile image

      jacqui2011 6 years ago from Norfolk, UK

      @ jpcmc - I think libraries are vital to the community and education. Thank you so much for your comment.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 6 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Libraries here in the Philippines are at the end of the local government's priorities. However, there are NGOs that help build libraries through donations. At least there are some who take education seriously.

    • jacqui2011 profile image

      jacqui2011 6 years ago from Norfolk, UK

      Hi MM, I was surprised too when I was doing the research. There are a few mobile libraries that go to the more remote areas in Scotland and some hard to access towns. I will be making more of an effort to use my local library. Apart from anything else, the peace and quiet is great! Thanks for commenting and the vote up. Best wishes.

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi jacqui, I was really surprised to read there are only 5,000 libraries here in the UK now, the library is such an important part of the community. We read a lot but don't visit the library as often as we could. I will certainly make more of an effort now to use our local library.

      Thank you and voting up.

    • jacqui2011 profile image

      jacqui2011 6 years ago from Norfolk, UK

      Hi, thanks for stopping by. That's a great idea raising funds through book sales. I like my Kindle too, but I buy physical books too. I've never thought of donating them for funds. Thanks for your valuable comments.

    • mactavers profile image

      mactavers 6 years ago

      Thanks for reminding us to take advantage of our local libraries. Our town library is a private library that is open to all, but is funding through membership in Friends of the Library and their twice yearly book sales. While I love my Kindle, I still buy books and donate them to the library sales, and attend the sales. I can't imagine not having our library.