In his timely and moving piece on public libraries (Daily Telegraph Aug. 13th) Alan Bennett pointed out that ‘... a library has no honours board and takes no credit for what its readers go on to do…’
And I thought he’s right, they don’t. And then I thought… why don’t they? What better way to show the government how important libraries are? What better way to prove that they have played a vital part in nurturing the future writers, poets, journalists, scientists, mathematicians, graphic designers, engineers, philosophers, MPs, shop owners, teachers and so on of their town? Just imagine walking in to your public library and seeing something like this in the entrance:
How proud would you be if your name were included on it? You name, not for being some wealthy dignitary or celebrity famous for doing nothing but your name because it was in that library you discovered the joy of reading and went on to be the first person in your family to go to college? Because it was in that library you were given the freedom to study, away from the destructive elements of your neighbourhood? It was in that library, through books, you realised there was a bigger, wider world out there? What a powerful message would that send out.
I’d love to make this happen. Let’s do it! Start writing in now!
Alan Bennett’s name would be on the honour board at Armley Library and Leeds Central Library. Mine would be (pauses for modest cough) on Garforth’s (also near Leeds) and Huddersfield’s Library. Garforth’s board would read: Helena Pielichaty, children’s writer discovered her love of reading here 1964-1969. Huddersfield’s would read: ‘Helena Pielichaty, children’s writer got through her A levels here thanks to the private study booths 1972-1974’
Paul Abbott, who wrote ‘Shameless’ relates that without his local library in Liverpool he would have ended up in a phsychiatric ward. There must be hundreds more examples of people for whom libraries have played a significant role in their future. Libraries should be boasting about them.
I think children should have honour boards too. ‘Hamza A… participated in the Summer Reading Challenge every year until starting secondary school. He went on to become…’ ‘Lucy K visited this library every Saturday with her dad and went on to become…’
Incidentally ‘went on to become’ doesn’t have to be anything extraordinary. Went on to become an avid reader is an accolade in itself.
Anyway, Alan. Thanks for the idea. I’m going to run with it and see what Twitter world thinks. Back soon!
image of Alan Bennett from park.life.org