It probably comes as no surprise to many who know me for my professional role in a literacy company, but, aged 10, I was a school librarian.
At the start of Year 5 I remember being called to the front of assembly and handed the prestigious red librarian badge and my entire primary school was informed of my and my fellow librarians’ new duties in school.
The next two years signified all the advantages this prestigious position held, including going in first at dinnertime, and being allowed the wonderful task of helping select the termly list of new books, and sorting the shelves in what was my schools pride and joy.
This small acknowledgement and responsibility signified a lifelong love of reading and the library.
Throughout my teaching career I was always fortunate enough to have direct involvement in my school libraries.
I would teach in there, take students there over lunchtime, and I’m proud to recall managing librarians at two schools, and helping train a number of different students to be school librarians.
At one particular school, I helped establish the library as the heart of it, while making sure that students, regardless of their age, always had reason to go in there.
You can see why, therefore, that’s it a struggle for me to even contemplate the idea of schools without libraries.
I appreciate for many, and for the digital world we live in, a library may seem unnecessary, but to those people, I ask you to cast your mind back to your childhood, or your child’s childhood and reflect on your own experience of your library.
Whether it’s a school library or a library within your community I bet somewhere in the depths of your memory you can look at them fondly. I was incredibly fortunate, that as a young mother I lived in an area benefiting from Sure Start, and I don’t think it was by accident that all of my Sure Start sessions occurred within Hemlington library.
We had ‘read with your little one’ and ‘toddler music’ and ‘baby massage’ and ‘breast feeding group’ all within the sanctuary and peace of the library, with each session ending in a group of parents and their children spending time amongst the books, sat cross legged on the reading mat having a wonderful time.
That particular library is also a hub for a catalogue of other community groups, employability programmes and a place to research and learn new skills.
I honestly don’t think my community would survive without it.
While today’s campaigning call is a cry for school libraries, I’d argue that the closure of both school and community libraries in the recent years is not only adding to the increased rates of illiteracy but also our countries decrease in well-being and community.
Whether in school, or in the community, having a space to escape and be immersed in the quiet of a library is essential. They promote peace, community and respect like no other place.