Despite the government cuts to public services and the warning of closer for many libraries up and down our country I believe our library service has a vital role to play in the future. Our public libraries have seen much change in my lifetime. When I was young they seemed very much like a room full to the ceiling with just books, they were a very silent place and often run by very stern Librarians. Today’s library serve so many purposes, a place to connect to the Internet an early learning centre with special activities for young children, a means to get a photocopy or to send a fax, a comfortable place to study, research local history and family history, local maps or bylaws or just sit and read with a cup of coffee from the vending machine.
I have just returned from a local history research session at my local library in Skegness. This weeks opening session looked at life in Skegness during the 1880 when tourism was just establishing itself. The librarian provided us with a vast array of books, pictures and other dater for us to use in our research and provided us with an excellent overview of the subject area. This is the type of service our libraries should be providing and well done to the staff at Skegness library for putting the session on.
David Cameron should not overlook the pivotal role that our library’s could play in establishing his big society, the library in many areas is the heart of the community and could provide an ideal setting for many community groups to meet up in. Many of our community volunteers are people who are of a mature age, exactly the group who relies on the services of the library and so it should be seen that our libraries could be a spring board for many of his ideas, but not if they are already closed.
Despite all the modern gadgets and forms of electronic entertainment books are still very much loved by the masses, more books are read now than at any other time in history. Has an avid reader myself I do have a few problems with ordering books from the library. If I was to order a new popular novel I would expect to have to wait between 4 and 6 months to get hold of a copy, the last book I ordered I was 46th on the waiting list before it would reach me and so I have to make a choice on what books to buy and what to borrow. I think some thought should be given to displaying new books to buy alongside books to borrow and I would love to see areas for people to meet up for discussions and book clubs alongside modern coffee bar facilities making our libraries more of a social hub of society.
Who knows in which direction our libraries will go in the future with the growing use of hand held tablet PCs like the I pad, Will they become a place to download you book of choice for a limited period for instance, for thing I am sure of those is that despite present trends our public Libraries will still fulfil a vital role for both young and old.
For those who would be interested in Joining the local history taster sessions at Skegness Library, they will run once a month on a tuesday morning. Next session will be on April 12th, more info from Skegness Library.