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Article by Caroline Knight | 30th October 2018

Your Local Library – More Than Just Books!

The benefit of public libraries should not be underestimated! We are undoubtedly living in a digital age, but libraries are still at the heart of communities, representing accessible and safe spaces. A library transcends boundaries. Everyone is welcome – from the smallest to the oldest user. They provide a ‘destination’ for lonely people and, of course, allow access to huge resources of information and knowledge.

Libraries have changed over the years and they are no longer just about books. Many have cafes, all have digital equipment and most have computers to hire, DVDs, audio books, and even children’s entertainment and a host of public events.

Our public libraries are facing a turning point and many villages, towns and cities have lost this valuable resource. Last year alone, local council funding for libraries was reduced by £66 million, which resulted in almost 900 people losing their jobs. Some communities have taken on the running of the library themselves, with around 500 UK libraries now being run by volunteers.

Other areas have been lucky, seeing investment in current libraries in order to bring them up-to-date. Hastings is one such town where the library re-opened earlier this year after completion of a multimillion-pound scheme. It now boasts 25,000 new items of stock, 35 public computer terminals, a dedicated Learning Suite and the most amazing frieze designed and donated by Sir Quentin Blake, the world-renowned illustrator, which depicts the town’s historic Stade and other local scenes.

“I am deeply convinced of the importance of young people reading: they can be guided to valuable books, but it is also a way of their pursuing their own explanations, and creating their own education,” said Sir Quentin.

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