A Borrower from A Lender Be

Man, I love my Library.

Castlebar Library, County Mayo, Ireland. I love you.

But then I have been around a bit and, in fairness, I have loved all my libraries in their time. I’m like Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson, singing about all the girls I’ve loved before, except I’m singing about libraries. That’s not actually the only difference but it will do for now.

Thursday was a bit of a pain this week. I’ll spare you the details. It was just a bit of a pain. Then, on Friday, I got two messages on my phone simultaneously. The first said that a book I requested online from the library was now ready for collection. The second message also said that a book I requested was now ready for collection. Just the week before, I had logged on and asked to borrow two books. The library had tracked them down in another library elsewhere in the country, had them shipped to my library and now they were sitting there waiting for me. I dropped in at lunchtime and there they were, two beautiful trade hardback versions of the books I wanted to read, my name neatly written on the labels attached to them. 

No charge.

Man, I love my library.

And it’s not just books, you know. Now that people are moving on from DVD and Blu-Ray and getting their entertainment via streaming services, the Library is replete with DVDs and box sets of all shape and sizes. Want to catch up on a recent movie or binge on a series? It’s probably in there, in your library, waiting for you. They’re great for music too. CDs and Audio Books and books online to download onto your computer, even in the middle of the night. Our Library even loans musical instruments. The first decent drum kit my son had, came on loan from the library. That way, we learned how much he loved to play before we bought the kick ass kit he has now. How brilliant was that?

Don’t get me wrong. I buy my books when I can. I enjoy doing it. I think you should buy books too. It’s tough being an author and they need our help and support, just like the libraries do. But I read quite a lot and I couldn’t afford to entirely support my excessive reading habit from book buying alone. That’s why the Library has always and forever been a lifesaver for me. More than that, it’s been a heaven. Sometimes, I can hardly get over what an amazing facility it is to have. A place that will lend you books and let you read them for free. It almost feels like it shouldn’t be allowed and I pray that it always will be and I fear that it someday won’t.

My library is what keeps me on a par with everybody else in the entire world. No matter how rich you are, no matter how powerful, I can afford to read anything and everything that you can read. Because of my library, nothing is held back from me just because I am not as wealthy as you are. All knowledge, all entertainment, is there. Access to it is my right. It is mine.

People say we should make use of our libraries as a sort of a political statement, to reinforce how important and how necessary they are. I have no quarrel with that. It’s true that we do need to defend our libraries in any way that we can and making good use of them is the most obvious and effective way to do that. I just don’t think it ever has to be a chore. Anyone who loves to read can grow to love their library. There are more books there than in practically any bookstore and they are yours to take down and look at and borrow and read.

On Friday, the high point of my day was going in to the library and getting two books I wanted to read handed to me with a smile. I read the first few pages on the walk home and didn’t walk in to a lamp post, as I sometimes do. Life was good.

A wonderful resource, the Library. Use the resource to save the resource but learn to fall in love with it too.

It’s that loving of it that will ultimately save it, I reckon.


Jim Murdoch said...

I often wonder what the future will bring. Well, occasionally. We seem to be heading towards a world where ownership isn’t such a big deal. And I suppose that’s a good thing. That being the case you’d think that libraries would be getting more popular and yet that does not seem to be the case. People pay to rent films and TV shows, they subscribe to music streaming services; but what about books? I did think the e-book revolution was going to take off in a big way but although it’s not fallen flat on its face it hasn’t been quite the rip roaring success they were predicting a few years back. That’s the general public for you, contrary buggers. I’m told physical stores are suffering and yet every time I go down the town it’s full of people. And it’s a healthy number of people. It doesn’t feel any less than back in the seventies before the Internet got a hold of us. Clearly people are still happy to spend time in physical places. And I’ve never been in Clydebank Library and wondered where all the readers were because there’re always plenty of people there. So I don’t know what’s going on. Who do you believe? I have to be honest though, it’s been years since I took a book out of a library. And I can’t blame the Internet for that although my fall off in attendance did coincide with its inception. And a part of me misses it I have to say. I love libraries and I love bookshops. I love being around literature. It doesn’t matter that I’m not going to read 1% of the books, probably not even 0.001% of the books. That’s not the point. A library to me is no different to a beach or a country walk. Being surrounded by books calms me. It’s why I love my office at home. Seeing all those books and CDs (because I’ve got hundreds of those and they look like little books on their shelves) makes me happy. I’ve always thought it was an order thing because I get a similar feeling wandering around a supermarket as long as the shelves are tidy and I used to enjoy Blockbuster for the same reason. Neatness = calmness.

marty47 said...

on the topic of libraries Ken, I saw pictures on St Johns School, FB page, I was looking for older pics of our time there, but was on the wrong page I guess.What I did see was rows of youngsters being walked to the library in Stephen St, as we were over 40 years ago, until under the supervision of Teacher Brendan Brogan, 5 or 6 of us took over 'library duties' and went down to library, drew out a couple of hundred books, and had our own classroom library, which as I'm sure you'll remember was a huge success, even if it did cost us missing the odd 10.30 play time & sometimes a lunch break. The man was a way head of his time in many ways
George H