In my younger days libraries were about borrowing books, reading newspapers and finding somewhere quiet to do some research.
Today, though those facilities still exist, libraries offer much more than that.
I live in the Kirklees area of West Yorkshire where the Local Authority is responsible for 28 public lending libraries, with cuts to its budget from Central Government, the whole of Kirklees could be left with just 2 libraries, one in Dewsbury and one in Huddersfield.
To counter these closures some users are organising ‘ save our library’ petitions, In Cleckheaton more than 2000 signatures have been acquired, some are calling for more volunteers.
Six months ago the Grove United Reform Church in Gomersal opened a community library on Tuesday and Friday’s from 9.45am-1.30pm.
They stock over 2000 books which can be borrowed for 20p each CD’s and DVD’s can be borrowed for 50p. There is a children’s area with internet available. The books, music and films are donated by the public and it is a very successful scheme.
The 2 libraries I use are in Heckmondwike and Cleckheaton. Both have Job Clubs where the unemployed can access the latest job vacancies on computers, they run coffee mornings which provide speakers on such topics as the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, human trafficking and Yorkshire Dialect.
Both libraries have exhibitions commemorating local people who were involved in the First World War. Family events are organised with emphasis on young children or you can go ‘Nordic’ walking and the staff are always so helpful.
Libraries are wonderful institutions they create a level playing field for those who can’t afford books, don’t have access to computers or sufficient space at home to study. Losing libraries denies people the right to educate themselves at their own pace, level of concentration and consciousness.
Ultimately they are about equality.
The playwright Alan Bennett says library closures are akin to child abuse.
Let’s keep them open.