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)