Saturday, 8 February 2014

We Love Libraries!

I can still picture the local library I visited as a child surprisingly clearly. It was in the next village (my village was too small to warrant a permanent library) and I have memories of going into the brightly coloured childrens' section as a child and picking out books. I particularly remember borrowing a book which taught me how to play the keyboard, although I probably borrowed many more!

I also remember frequenting the 'grown up' section as a secondary school child to do research for my homework. Those were the days before we all had internet, you see: the book reigned supreme. It was quite a solemn place, very quiet, but I enjoyed going nonetheless.

Last summer I found out from an old friend that that library was closing down. I feel rather sad about that.

Now I take Eleanor to our local library most weeks (you can see the evidence of this by looking at some of the blog posts labelled with 'childrens' books') and she loves it too. We went a little bit when she was a baby but it really came in handy when she hit her second year and just couldn't get enough of books! We are lucky that our library has a really good children's section with a massive selection of board books and picturebooks. We have found many a favourite book through borrowing them first, especially the fabulous 'Zog' which we loved so much we kept renewing it until Christmas brought us our own copy! (Note I use the plural there - I love it as much as, if not more than Eleanor!!)

We are also lucky that every week they have a Rhyme Time session, where a member of staff reads books and sings songs for the assembled babies and toddlers, all for free. Eleanor doesn't always pay a lot of attention to what's happening at the time, but she will often talk about the books read or songs sung afterwards. And the staff never make any fuss about the fact that she spends the whole time dragging books out of the boxes and occasionally shoving them into my hands and demanding, "Mummy READ IT!"

They have really worked hard to make the library welcoming too. I never feel self-conscious about Eleanor making a bit of noise, even when it's not a Rhyme Time. The staff are really friendly and say hello to us both, and the children's section has crayons, puzzles and cuddly toys for Eleanor to explore - not to mention a tempting array of soft blocks which are intended as seats but Eleanor uses as a substitute for soft play!

Every time I hear something on the news about libraries closing it makes me feel so sad for that community. Because they're not just buildings full of books. They are part of the community, a place for children to develop their love of reading, parents to meet up with each other, people to come to for a bit of peace and to find something new. Libraries have so much to offer for everyone.

Today is National Libraries Day. Have a look on their website - there might be something interesting for you to try this afternoon. Or if you're busy, maybe use this as an excuse to visit your local library in the coming week. If you don't go very often, you might well be surprised at what they have to offer. And if you don't use it, you lose it. Not just you, but everyone else around you. Including the little ones.

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