National Libraries Day: The curious case of the lesser-spotted library
Today is National Libraries Day! All over the country, people are celebrating what makes our libraries special. And in the face of funding cuts and widespread library closures in the UK, showing your support for libraries is more important now than ever.
Libraries, I hope you’ll agree, are great. Whether it’s for research or just for fun, being able to pick up pretty much any book you can think of for nothing is hard to knock.
Of course, libraries aren’t all about the books. While the concept of a publicly accessible repository of knowledge has been around a very long time – Chetham’s Library in Manchester purports to be the oldest public library in the UK, having been in continuous use since 1653 – the way we access that knowledge has changed a lot in 362 years.
From newspapers and magazines, to film, audiobooks and, of course, access to the internet, libraries still have a lot to offer local communities, even in today’s digital world. And that’s just the services they offer: consider also the role they play in many places as hubs for community events, or simply as warm, calm places to sit.
With all this in their favour, perhaps it’s no surprise that here in the UK we made more than 280 million visits to libraries in 2013-14. That’s more people than saw a Premier League football match (13.9 million), went to theatre (22 million), or saw a film at the cinema (165.5 million) combined! Hardly the visitor numbers of an obsolete institution, I think you’ll agree.
Despite all this though, it’s a hard fact that libraries are under pressure. Budgets for local government in the UK have been cut, and many libraries have been forced to close as a result. That’s why, on this National Libraries Day, people up and down the country are coming together to show that libraries are still vibrant, vital institutions that need a bit of love.
Want to get involved? The National Libraries Day website has a list of all the events going on this weekend – why not find your local library and head along? New members are always welcome.
You can also join in the celebrations online. Our poster below is ready for you to share with your friends on Twitter – just click here! If you love libraries – heck, if you love stories – spread the word and show it!
We hope you enjoyed this post! What’s your favourite thing about our libraries?
This post was written by Holly Newson
Featured image: Jonathan Moreau/Flickr, Infographic: ListeningBooks