Why do we need to protect our Libraries and their Services?

I wasn’t intending to post today however, whilst having a look on the BBC News website, I came across an article saying that there has been a drop in visits to our libraries here in the UK. You can read the article concerned¬†here.

It got me thinking about the impact of the Coalition Governments cuts and how they are effecting everyone as they filter down from Central Government, to local level then down to the impact on the normal everyday person on the street. It might only have been at voluntary level but I have worked in my local libraries service for 3 out of the last 4 summers and through that, I have seen how my local community uses the library service. I have also used my local libraries and the libraries in my university area to help with researching for assignments for my degree and for writing Camp NaNoWriMo and November NaNoWriMo.

Firstly, I feel I should dispel a long-held view of libraries I often get levelled at me when I talk about them: no, libraries are not just for books and no, the librarians are not old women always going, “Shh!” That might have been the case in the past but now, libraries act as community hubs.

Libraries often host sessions which help children, young adults, adults, the elderly and the vulnerable. Certainly, the library I worked at had Baby and Toddler story and rhyme time events, summer reading challenges, arts & crafts and games sessions for children, job hunting help for the unemployed, citizens advice had a drop in session once a week, knit and natter sessions and coffee mornings. Computers are available for anyone who needs them (members and guests alike) and of course the books to educate and entertain people.

For some people, their trip to the library is their only contact with other people for that week. For other people, it is their only access to computers and the internet and when people are job hunting, they can only get so far with looking at newspapers. Children may not have access to books at home for whatever reason so a trip to the library, either with a family member or school, might be their only way of being able to read, free of charge. For college and university students, they offer quiet spaces to work, access to some books that would otherwise be out of reach (either by cost or unavailability) and give them the ability to work on their essays, assignments and dissertations. They can also give those work spaces for people who want to work on their own things, like anyone working on a novel for Camp and November NaNoWriMo’s, and some libraries provide rooms for groups to hire to hold their own sessions.

So why do we need to protect libraries and their services?

We have already seen a drastic drop in library services here in the UK and we cannot afford to continue losing these services. They give so much to communities and they are used in so many different ways that losing them could potentially destroy communities, isolate people and remove such important opportunities to our children, which will affect their literacy levels and futures both in school and in their careers.

Somehow, some way, we have to protect them!