So apparently libraries have betrayed independent publishers; that’s the word from one of the speakers at the Inpress Publishing Festival. His problem seems to be that libraries aren’t buying as many books from small publishers as they used to. I won’t get into the politics of it all, although I’m surprised to see anyone in publishing criticise libraries; I think it’s safe to say that most people in publishing have benefitted from libraries and would encourage their success at every opportunity. So I thought I’d list twenty personal reasons why libraries rock.
- Libraries never told me a book was too advanced for me.
- Libraries never told me I was too advanced for a book.
- Libraries answered my questions before the Internet was no more than message boards.
- Libraries helped me get my hands on a rare and expensive book for my history project about the historical Dracula.
- Libraries introduced me to Terry Pratchett via the Mort graphic novel.
- Libraries allowed me to devour the Star Wars Expanded Universe without impoverishing my parents.
- Libraries granted me the infuriating hilarity of reading a book in which Princess Leia’s surname had been methodically corrected by pencil to ‘Skywalker’.
- Libraries meant I could listen to The Prodigy without having to ask my mother to buy it for me and thus have to explain why The Prodigy was fine for a teenage boy to listen to.
- Libraries helped me find enough resources to give a book report on Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart despite not having read it.
- Libraries have since helped me read Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.
- Libraries introduced me to the work of Katharine Briggs, which would prove pivotal to The Fey Man.
- Libraries furnished me with scientific books about dinosaurs when everywhere else offered colouring books.
- Libraries have cursed me to forever try to find a children’s book about a boy who travels back to the time of the dinosaurs and, at some point, visits Kew Gardens. No-one else seems to have heard of it. But I’ll find it one day.
- Libraries offered dozens of books about writing at a time when I didn’t know what the word ‘plot’ meant.
- Libraries were the first place I discovered comic book heroes outside of cartoons.
- Libraries let me read a prose adaptation of the Batman Knightfall storyline that made more sense than the collected editions of the comics.
- Libraries offered a rare space in my life where peace and quiet reigned supreme and unchallenged.
- Libraries are willing to lend a book written by an unknown local author.
- Libraries permitted me to read at little cost, at a time when little cost was the only cost I could bear.
- Finally, libraries are a bastion of the book. They might not always be perfect, but they are an almost barrier-free access point to books, which open countless doors to countless worlds to both young and old, rich and poor.
Why do you love libraries?
P.S. The Fey Man is now available to your local library, so why not borrow it for free? If you can’t find a copy from your library, just ask them to order it from Overdrive.