Librarians Rock!

Writers need libraries. Not just for the books. Not just for the DVDs, CDs, local history section, reference section, information about what’s on and the freedom to browse for as long as you wish when it’s pouring down with rain and you haven’t got enough money to buy a coffee…

Children’s writers especially need libraries for the librarians. Those wonderful people who know about books. Who can tell you, just like that, where to find the one about the old man and the talking donkey.  Who can put on amazing events to encourage readers to visit these fabulous buildings where they can meet writers and poets and storytellers.  All for free!

I’ve never met a rubbish librarian yet. Forget the image of the fire-breathing monster who shouts at children if they return a book a minute late. They’ve long gone (although I’ll make an exception for Spud Murphy, Eoin Colfer’s hilarious story about a scary, strict, dragon-like librarian because it has a happy ending). No, today’s librarians are all as jolly and knowledgeable and enthusiastic as the two in the photograph. Joyce and Sue from Lancashire library services. I just wished I’d taken photographs of all the ones I met during my two days in Lancashire recently, especially Alison with her curly golden locks and infectious laugh and Allyson who was the one who instantly knew which book was the one about the old man and the talking donkey*.

So my thought for the day, dear reader, wherever you are, is to cherish your librarians, for you know not how long you have them. Even as I write, they are in danger of becoming extinct, their powers to enthral and encourage readers diminishing by the day. Blinkered, short-sighted people called beauracrats who live in airless, souless buildings and didn’t read much as children are trying to get rid of them. In many secondary schools in England, the school librarian is often the first one to be made redundant during cutbacks, the management foolishly thinking that anyone can run a library, or, even more frightening, that schools don’t need libraries anyway. ‘Who needs libraries when people can get books from Tesco?’ one such man in Doncaster asked recently. That’s like saying who needs Tolkein when we’ve got Katie Price!  Come on!  (For more on this check out Alan Gibbons’ website (www.alangibbons.co.uk) and go to Campaigh for the Book section). Read my playlet called Tea-time in Tescos.

Anyway, off to Leeds now. More rants soon!

* Or it could have been a spotty elephant but you catch my drift…

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