Tag archives: children’s libraries

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Children need libraries for books, for reading, for education, for life – some powerful quotes

Hungry CaterpillaLike thousands of others I am appalled by the shocking cuts being made to public library provision and to school libraries. The consequences will be dire. Even if we consider just the economic picture, libraries are crucial. According to the Evidence Review of the Economic Contribution of Libraries ‘Research provides compelling evidence that library usage is linked to reading levels among children and young people, and that library usage and reading, in turn, are important factors in literacy skill levels and general educational attainment.’ Reading skills and reading enjoyment are fundamentally important not only for success in life, but also for mental well-being. Without libraries how can we possibly embed them? You only have to look at this great photo from Tower Hamlets Idea Stores and Libraries to see their benefits.

In a week in which the Guardian is publishing a series of love letters to libraries, I thought I would share some of my favourite library quotes, particularly ones reflecting on libraries’ role in supporting children, starting with an extract from A L Kennedy’s passionate piece. They paint a powerful picture.

‘Thank you for being the first place I realised how beautiful books were, how many books there were and for teaching me that they should all be available to me, that I could learn whatever I wanted and go wherever I wanted to in my mind. Thank you for opening the world to me.’ A L Kennedy

‘At the moment we persuade a child, any child, to cross that magic threshold into a library, we change their lives forever, for the better.’ Barack Obama

‘The education that mattered most to me began when my mother first took me to the public library and I registered for my own hallowed ticket.’ Will Self

‘I would never have become an author if it hadn’t been for my local library as a child.’ Malorie Blackman

‘A library isn’t just a library. It is a space ship that will take you to the farthest reaches of the Universe, a time machine that will take you to the far past and the far future, a teacher that knows more than any human being, a friend that will amuse you and console you — and most of all, a gateway, to a better and happier and more useful life.’ Isaac Asimov

‘You want weapons? We’re in a library! Books are the greatest weapons.’ Doctor Who

‘The way to get children reading is to leave the library door open and let them read anything and everything they want.’ Terry Pratchett

‘Libraries are browsing places, dreaming places, finding out places. So much education takes place when children are making choices of their own.’ Michael Morpurgo

Finally, a truly wonderful verse from Hear It Again by Ted Hughes:

Even the most misfitting child
Who’s chanced upon the library’s worth
Sits with the genius of the Earth
And turns the key to the whole world.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Swedish libraries

I had two lovely weeks in Sweden earlier this summer. I visited several libraries while I was there, and had a number of library-related discussions. The children’s libraries I saw were amazing: lively and bright, and incredibly well-stocked. It was fascinating to see lots of children’s books in English and other languages, even in a library in a small town. Stockholm Central Library is gorgeous. I loved watching children in the huge circular room at its core. They were mesmerised.

In the main square of Hudiksvall on the Baltic coast there was a showcase outside the library full of inspiring quotes about children’s reading. At the centre was a wonderful poster celebrating 400 years of children’s literature. I had no sooner commented on it than the librarian found out, rushed into the square, dismantled her display then and there, and handed me the poster. What an honour! It’s fabulous, full of pictures of characters from famous children’s books from around the world. I was at a gathering with lots of children and adults that evening. We spent ages trying to identify them all.

School libraries have recently become statutory in Sweden, as I wish they were in the UK. I spoke to the teacher leading on a new reading project in the Hudiksvall area. She told me that in fact many schools do not have libraries yet, or if they do they are small and undeveloped. She very much wants to improve the situation, as well as fostering partnership working between public libraries and schools, something quite new there. How I’d love to be involved!

Without doubt the tiniest library I came across was contained in the cupboard you can see here. It’s an early travelling library, which used to be transported from school to school.