Saturday, 8 February 2014

National Libraries Day. But do you support your local library? Do I?

Today is national libraries day. Every day seems to be national something-or-other day, I usually ignore them, but this one struck chord, and not a comfortable one. I last visited my local library almost a year ago, which is too long. And that was just to borrow a travel guide to take on holiday to Crete because I didn't want to entrust my laptop to the kindly carefulness of baggage handlers.

I like to tell myself I live in the wrong place. If the local library was within walking distance of my home, I'd go every week. That's what I tell myself because I used to live within easy walking distance of out local library in Stony Stratford, but that was almost two decades ago. When we first moved there, the library was tiny, housed in a little Victorian gothic building which had originally been the fire station. The rise of the new town of Milton Keynes led to Stony Stratford being given a larger modern library and I visited twice weekly and introduced my three children to the joys of libraries, all before they were two years old.

But the children grew up, we moved and my tastes changed. Today I read less fiction and I mostly need academic libraries for my research, and I buy books from bookshops, rather than borrowing them. I admit to also buying books online, but from Abebooks rather than Amazon. And my favourite bookshop is the Oxfam bookshop in the town centre. I probably own as many books as some small libraries.

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