In these days of library closures and cut backs on spending, I was delighted to do two author visits to local schools recently both of which were also celebrating the opening of their new library.
One of the new school libraries had only been made possible by a substantial amount of money being left to the church by a parishioner in his will. Happily for the school, the church council decided to spend it on refurbishing and restocking the school library. Excellent decision!
For that special opening day, all the pupils dressed as characters from books. Cake and squash was laid on in the hall for all the children, and tea and cake for the school governors, church council and me!
Both events were just so lovely, and the pride and excitement of all the staff and kids was a joy to see. Being given the honour of cutting the ribbons really brought a lump to my throat. It was just so nice to think that those first people through the doors into the libraries were the first of many hundreds of children and adults who would enjoy the facilities for years to come.
Something else was nice too – one of the schools had put up a brass plaque naming the benefactor who had made the library possible – with my name also inscribed as the person who had officially opened it. Was I chuffed? I should say so! I’ve never had a plaque before.
I’m writing this having just come back from another school visit and while it’s pretty exhausting I think it’s also one of the best things about writing – actually seeing the excitement and enthusiasm of the kids (and teachers) as we talk about books and writing. But I wonder if there will ever be that same excitement over ebooks.
Maybe when every class has its own ebook reader, and the children can browse the virtual libraries and choose which books to download and read together – maybe then there will be that sense of excitement. But so far in my experience, the mere mention of ebooks produces only blank looks from the kids and slightly disapproving expressions on the teachers’ faces.
Although, saying that, I have met two senior school librarians who have proudly told me that their library does actually now own a Kindle.
I wonder if anyone else has had a more enthusiastic response when talking about ebooks on their school visits.
Perhaps its just a matter of time before primary school kids and teachers get into ebooks. Maybe then authors will be invited into schools to officially cut the ribbon off an electronic reader.
But will there still be tea and cake – or a brass plaque?
Let’s hope so!