Libraries Transform - We Need Them by Wendy H. Jones

SoAiS Committee Members

I am on the committee of the Society of Authors in Scotland, and some of us are in the picture above. SoAiS are supporting CILIPS, Libraries Matter Campaign because we all believe that libraries truly do matter. We are having our meeting in the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh.

Scotland has always been a proud supporter of education and reading. Scottish philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie believed in them so much he built and supported a total of 2,509 libraries worldwide, starting in 1883. In Scotland, 56 local authorities were given money to build libraries. Several of these built more than one, including Dundee, where I grew up. My local library was one of these. However, Dundee has an even older library. Lochee library and baths, which was built in 1895. Scotland has always believed in the value of reading and the way in which it can transform lives. 

Coldside Library, Dundee

These libraries ensured that everyone had access to books for both pleasure and learning. Regardless of your status in life you could borrow books free. When I first started it was 1 book at a time. Now you can borrow 10 books at a time. A treasure trove of excitement awaits inside the door of every library. 

According to CILIPS website, 60% of the country , that country being Scotland, use them and they welcome 28 million visits a year. 20 million books are borrowed every year, more than are sold.

Those figures are staggering but true. However, libraries are now closing at an unprecedented rate, as Government support is withdrawn. This means that many of Scotland's readers will have their main source of reading removed. In a time when many families struggle to pay bills, books will not be the main priority. This does not just apply to Scotland, but to England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It has been proven, over and over, that reading can help improve intelligence. Reading books with children helps develop their language skills. It also helps them to learn what words mean. 

In this pile of books from the library there are cookbooks, audio books, travel books, romance and crime. You can get all these, and so much more in a library, and all free. No matter what you want to research, ready or study, your library, and the librarians, will come up trumps. Libraries are about so much more than reading. They run a number of other activities such as

  • Writing groups
  • Sing and Rhyme
  • Talks on many diverse subjects
  • Host authors
  • Computer lessons
  • Lego clubs
  • Rent meeting rooms
  • Run book groups 
This is just a small selection of the top of my head. I am sure you can add many more. But all of these are why libraries matter and libraries transform. 

If you would like to know more about the campaign visit CILIPS

Add your voice and fight tooth and nail to save our libraries. They are a part of our heritage and deserve to be a part of our future. 


Chris Longmuir said…
Well said, Wendy.
JO said…
Losing libraries is just bonkers. In developing countries, setting up a library is seen as evidence of progress. But here ...
Dennis Hamley said…
We are fast losing our right to be called a civilised country.
Bill Kirton said…
Great cause, Wendy, which goes far beyond just reading books. Ignoring the need for health, education and all the support services on which they depend is, as Denis says, uncivilised and nothing good will come of it.
Fran B said…
I lived across the road from Lochee library for ten years (aged 7 to 17). I joined at age 7 and used to beg the librarian to let me borrow more than one book a day. (sadly, she never did!) I also learned to swim in Lochee baths! So your post made me smile nostalgically.

Yes, hurrah for libraries! I can't believe the government think it is a good idea to close them. If any are not being well enough used, surely the efforts should go into finding out why and making them more relevant to their communities. In this age of endless onscreen, techno entertainment, it is all the more important to encourage reading. There is absolutely no substitute for it in terms of developing knowledge, thought processes, language facility, sense of identity, sense of humour, world - and word - understanding, emotional intelligence . . . need I go on?
Umberto Tosi said…
Yes! We need libraries more than ever now, not less. Our local libraries provide more than books - centers for learning and communities of readers. Excellent post. I've been on library boards for many years fighting the ignorance which seems at high tide in America at the moment. Ugh.

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