Library Lovers Unite
by Sara Whatley
Sara Whatley is a book lover. Here, she extolls the brilliance of libraries and shares her experience of them being so much more than silent, stuffy reading.
My memories of visiting the library stretch all the way back to before I could see over the counter. I clearly remember sitting in the bright and cosy children’s corner rifling through the books, the excitement of taking them home ready for my parents to read again, and again, and again. I would carry my pile over to the desk, my little hand lifting each book up and sliding it over the counter to be stamped, followed by my own special library card which I think I even remember signing with a squiggled signature. Then as I got older I found the teenage and young adult section and discovered a whole new world of reading, one which sometimes kept me up until the small hours, or until my torch began to flicker, anyway.
At university I sometimes felt like I lived in the library, and the sight of snoozing students mid-way through a mammoth work session was not uncommon – why provide sofas if not to encourage a restorative power nap? And beyond uni I was a regular in many libraries, beavering away at my short stories, willing the words of thousands of great authors to seep through my fingers.
And now, with my own daughter, we are weekly visitors to our local library. We join in with the Rhyme Time sessions, a fun half hour of singing and movements to classic and new nursery rhymes. We first went when she was just a few months old and she stared in fascination at all the other children and babies. Now, at a year and a half, she joins in, claps her hands, shakes her rattle and laughs her way through sessions, sitting on her own mini chair or joining the inevitable gang of toddlers tottering around at the front.
It’s not just Rhyme Time sessions that libraries run; there is a wealth of different activities for children and adults alike from Saturday Sing Along, Toddler Time, Board Games and Multi-sensory Story Magic to reading groups, Knit and Knatter, I.T drop in sessions, Relax with Colouring, writing groups, Asperger reading group, Cancer support groups and many more. Sessions vary from library to library and are all free.
Many of the sessions are run by volunteers along with library staff, and from what I have experienced everyone is exceptionally friendly and helpful. Our local library staff stop and chat with my daughter, giving her high fives and generally making her, and my, experience really positive. I hope I can instil in her what my own parents instilled in me; reading is brilliant and libraries are magical places. Let’s use them and keep them alive.