"Why isn't there a childrens' day?" we used to whinge, in that irritating tone that all kids have. The predictable response? "Every day is children's day". Of course, I knew what they were getting at. But I still contend that it wasn't, because we didn't get a box of chocolates, some slightly decrepid daffodils and breakfast in bed every morning. Anyway. Every day should be Libraries day.
My Mum didn't drive, so when we were little, day trips had to be local. My two favourite places in the world to go were WHSmith and the library. When I took an ill-advised trip back to my childhood shopping precint last Spring (ill-advised because it reminded me of Mum and I cried pretty much constantly, embarrassed A, and looked unhinged), it was the library which really set me off. It has been refurbished, but still stands in the same carpark. It used to smell of lovely new books. I would sit for a very, very long time, choosing which books to take home with me - for free! Such excitement! Much more exciting, really, than WHSmith, where you actually had to have some money to take stuff home. I could read whatever I wanted! Such freedom.
When we moved to the Midlands, I became a familiar face at the village library. I think I read every book in the teen section. In fact they eventually offered me a job, as I was in there so much! I turned it down, as I already had a part-time job, and I think I am rather too fog-horned of voice to be a good librarian.
My two don't love the library, quite as much as I did yet, but they are getting there. We were going to go today (it being National Libraries Day, and also ours are due back), but were scuppered by a birthday party for one of C's friends. All of the local libraries now have reduced opening hours on a Saturday. We had to make do with reading the ones we hadn't got round to reading yet (Laugh out Loud by Fiona Waters and I Know Someone with Dyslexia by Sue Barraclough). A chose that one as she knows I work with people with dyslexia, and she wanted to learn more about it. I wouldn't have wanted to buy it, as it's quite short and not exactly a riveting read, but libraries are there to disseminate knowledge, and this is what they do.
A and C also love their school library. We are very lucky that theirs has one, as does the school I teach in. I use it every day. It is a source of great joy to me that my Year 7 group turn to the books before the internet when they have to research a topic. They have come to know and trust the school librarian, and are beginning to know and trust books too.
We go to many different libraries. Our village does not have one (a source of some angst for me - it really needs one), but we do live within driving/bussing distance of several. All are special in their own way, and all are ALWAYS busy whenever we go. Communities need libraries with proper, trained librarians, rather than a Tesco-stylee self checkout thingy.