Thursday, 8 December 2011

Lovely libraries

I am genuinely excited by libraries. This because I read a lot. In the recent cutbacks, I heard a lot of pro-government supporters announcing 'but really, who uses libraries?'. Well, me. All the bloody time. And I'm tardy too, so they get extra funding out of me in the form of late fees.

But yes. I get through a minimum of a book a month, depending on this or that, and the size of the book. Gone With The Wind took me 9 weeks, but it is an astonishing work of fiction and well worth the time. I thought it was going to be floppy-flappy namely-pamby fiddle-dee-deeing (just to be clear, I do really like the film, too), but it was really a Proper Book. I have yet to recover from the siege of Atlanta.

There is a thing I love best about libraries. I often catch myself standing looking at two volumes of something with an internal monologue going 'but what if I don't like it? I'm not sure it's my sort of thing. And do I have time to read both of these in 3 weeks?' until suddenly my brain kicks in and I realise - IT'S FREE! I can have both! It doesn't matter if I get halfway through it and can no longer be bothered. I have a copy of The Girl With Glass Feet on my Kindle which I just can't be bothered to deal with any more, and I feel terribly guilty about it sitting there, the great waste of money. But libraries? I've list count of the books I've lost interest in and returned early! And I don't care! Because they were FREEEEEEE!

Now, of course, I have a baby, and so off we trot to get something fresh to read because I can now recite Little Kitten, and 123 What Can You See is suffering from addendums ("They are gifts for you all frOm me to help you learn your ABC 123!" "Thank you, Frog, you patronising git, what a wonderful treat!"). I neither want, nor can afford, nor can fit in my house, who rafts of 'That's not my noun, it's noun is too adjective' books, but the library? They have loads, and I think a fortnight in the company of That's Not My Bear/Tractor/Robot is just enough before it can go back and our copy of That's My Tiger becomes interesting again.

I know that I'm trying to concentrate on lovely things, but this is where the government's literacy strategy is wrong. You don't encourage literacy by memorising lists of words- you nurture it quietly through a love of story. And libraries are just one whole temple to that. Which is why they are wonderful.

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