Except, you know, the uncivilized guy with his junk in his hand back by the computers. But I digress. Libraries = good. Especially MOBILE libraries. Bookmobile for the win! Get behind your libaries, people.
One of my favourite book titles of recent years is The Child That Books Built, by Frances Spufford, because it wonderfully encapsulates the fact that for millions the very building blocks of identity are found on bookshelves. One study carried out by American academics, involving 70,000 case studies in 27 countries, found the biggest determining factor in children achieving academic success was not wealth or class, nor parents staying together, but the presence of books in the home.
Since buying books is an unimaginable luxury to those struggling to buy groceries, the only viable route towards improving those children’s chances in life is the local lending library. But we all need to support the institution. When user numbers fall and cash-strapped councils have to weigh the claims of libraries against social services, the former can be a soft target unless demand is visibly high. In the spend and splurge years, the middle classes found books were relatively affordable compared to income, particularly when shopping on Amazon, and many people lost the library habit.
I’ve started a new thing with Ninja Boy. We can buy novels, stories, poetry, etc., but if he wants non-fiction, we go to the libary to get it. Hopefully this will instill both a love of research (and the realization that information is transient) and a respect for literature as something worth keeping and rereading. Probably though, like everything parents do, it will cripple him mentally later in life and lead to tens of thousands of dollars in therapy bills. Sigh.