Libraries (and librarians) are wonderful

Libraries have been an important place in my life. The local library in Auburn when I was a kid was a place of regular pleasure and anticipation. All those books waiting to lead me to imagination, other lives and other possibilities, to broaden a little country girl’s horizons. At primary school I read almost all the books in the library (there weren’t that many probably, but it seemed a lot). The school library was also a place of refuge when adolescence was too hard, loneliness too much. When travelling too, a visit to a library could be restoring – a warm place on a cold day, with quiet people and lovely books (I am picturing wintry Canada in my mind here).

The ‘institution’ aspect of libraries is important too. I haven’t looked up the history of libraries before writing this, but to create a free exchange of books open to everyone seems such a marvel of good sense and a reflection on the right to read and to learn, to have access and to collectively create the world. It’s obviously something that started in less individualistic, materialistic times. [Turns out that the Public Libraries Act of 1850 in UK started the ball rolling for this type of library, providing free access to information and literature for all.]

I have come upon a couple of articles (here and here) in the past week or two about the role libraries are playing in these pandemic times. I have also written about libraries here and here before. It is very uplifting and inspiring (and in the case of the cartoon, amusing) to see what is being done. These unassuming ways of creating connection despite the difficulties of doing so, and reaching out to those whose lives are even more isolated at the moment, are a reinforcement of the value of this underrated piece of social infrastructure, and their glorious custodians. Librarians making the world a better place day after day, book after book.

This post is dedicated to my dear librarian friends Kathy (who works for SA Health) and Bet (now retired), and to the wonderful Joan Tuza, librarian at my work for many years.

(WordPress has changed its way of editing these blog posts (Grrrr – more technology for me to come to terms with), and I am not sure if you can see the captions on the pictures – they were taken yesterday at Noarlunga Library and highlight a very few of the services and supports there)

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7 Responses to Libraries (and librarians) are wonderful

  1. Mandy Laidlaw says:

    My love of libraries came later in life, becoming a single Mum with limited income…. since then I have been a devotee.
    I especially enjoy visiting libraries when I travel and remember the one in Lyon having a vending machine for tourist merchandise!! I find the architecture of libraries particularly fascinating . I have never met a librarian I didn’t like, such giving people. 🥰

    • Hi Mandy, I know you love libraries, so I am glad to hear from you here! What a great travelling story about Lyon, and yes, there are some amazing and beautiful buildings housing books too – saw some pics online when I was getting this post together… Hope you are well love and sending cheers

  2. Kathy L says:

    Thank you dear Elizabeth! Libraries are more important than ever before, ironic isn’t it now that “everything is on the internet” 🙂 Free unfettered access to information without censorship is one of the foundations of democracy and social justice – not to mention just having fun and relaxing.

  3. Libraries have been such an important part of my life. These days even more so as I work at our local library and miss the interaction with our patrons. Though patrons are able to order materials online and come to the library to pick them up, we are not yet open for browsing and no programs are being offered just yet. I think our director is very wise in reopening slowly. It is a different world and there is so much to consider both for patrons and staff. Thanks for this post. Libraries will need every bit of public support in the days ahead as governments will no doubt be cutting financial supports back as they deal with the financial fallout of this pandemic. I hope people everywhere will let their governments know just how vital libraries are for the public good.

    • Great to hear from you again Carol, and to know that you are a library person (doesn’t surprise me!). It’s been such a strange time, and hard to get used to all the changes, but so important to keep people safe and be cautious as you say. Do look after yourself as it all unfolds.

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