This has been said by many readers and librarians over the years and it seriously bugs me that it needs to be repeated time and time again until it sinks in, but:
Libraries are not just about books!
They never have been.
I grew up in a preWWW world, when I was a child (& teenager) I went to the library on a weekly basis, first with my mum and little brother and as I grew older I went on my own, to find books to read for pleasure as well as books to help with homework, assignments and some just to improve my knowledge of the world around me (and sharks – I really loved sharks). I also had access to magazines and newspapers from around the world.
A day seldom seems to go by without hearing or seeing an ignorant statement from someone in a position of power and authority or in the comments section of a major newspaper saying that Libraries are past their sell-by date because everything is on the internet (it isn’t) and everyone can afford to buy books (they can’t)!
From their very beginnings, public libraries have been about equality of access to information, learning resources and, yes, reading for pleasure.
If all Libraries did was act as a storehouse of books then it is possible that I would agree with many commentators who say they are no longer fit for purpose, but many of them are ignorant of the services that libraries do provide.
Fortunately Dr Lauren Smith has compiled a brilliant list of the work undertaken by Librarians and Library Workers across the UK:
As Librarians, Library Workers, Library Lovers and Campaigners we need to win over the hearts and minds of library detractors as well as those that have the power to influence the future of the service, specifically new libraries minister Rob Wilson. His open letter to colleagues about Libraries makes interesting reading: