8 Jul 2014

The Library As A Lifeline

My love of books is no secret. I learned to read when I was 2, and never stopped. I remember in year 4 being made to read the first line of every reading book they had to try and find something I couldn't easily read, and stopping at a year 6 book. I read every children's book in the house, and then moved on to my mum's books. I read the backs of cereal packets eating breakfast, and shampoo bottles in the bath. The idea of nothing to read still distresses me. I'm currently on bedrest with concussion and am not allowed to read much. I am so fed up.

We had very little spare money when I was growing up. I have six siblings, and with the mortgage and bills, we cost more than my parents earned. There was no spare cash for books. I used the school library constantly once I started high school. When I left, I began using the town library every week. I would go with my sister in her pushchair and fill the bottom of the pushchair with books.

I had a difficult few years in my mid teens. I was bullied, lonely, poor and bored. I babysat my sister as a job during the week and spent the money I got on visiting my boyfriend at weekends. My friends were still in sixth form. I didn't really belong anywhere. The books I got from the library were travel books; reading them sent me somewhere that wasn't a dead-end Lincolnshire town, where I was miserable.

And that is the value of libraries that is too often ignored by politicians and councillors trying to make cuts where privileged people won't notice. A book is a mental passport away from a situation. A book can provide the education needed to liberate oneself from inescapable difficulty. It can be a source of hope. Just the simple act of leaving the house to return books and fetch more can be a catalyst for independence.

I grew up in Lincolnshire and the way the library system is being systematically dismantled upsets me terribly. A library is far more than a simple repository of books. It can be a lifeline, and source of great pleasure for those who are less fortunate. The internet and Kindle have not removed the need for community libraries, and those who need them most are often the ones most excluded from the ebook revolution.

Save Lincolnshire libraries.

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