I spend far too much of my time thinking about books I would like to read, am going to read, or have read and would read again if only there was time. I also think about the amount of books lying around the house and how maybe I should try harder to get rid of some so I can inevitably end up buying more. Although, there are many more books that will never grace my shelves, far more than I could ever read or afford.
The only thing these books have in common is that they are the ones at my local library. What surprises me is that out of my friends who are as committed to reading as I am, is how few of them visit a library. It’s just not something that occurs to them, because I think many of us, including myself are caught in the fetish of having to own the books we read. I do love the books I own and fully intend to read some of them again, though I am pretty sure, if I am being honest, that I never will. So why own them in the first place?
I know it’s not as easy that, after all a tattered paperback read on holiday, or when you were with someone can prompt an avalanche of memories to flood back to you. I have bought books recently I originally had many years ago because I liked them at the time, and they bring old memories alive again.
But, I want to get over this fetish of ownership and make more use of my local library. As they say, you need to use it or lose it. There have been more than 300 libraries shut in the UK since 2010 and perhaps if more people had used them they would be still be open? all I know is that libraries are much more than somewhere you can pick up a Mills & Boon. They are social resource for those who can’t afford to buy every book they’d like, which is most of us really. There are students and writers like me who need somewhere quiet to work but still want some company around them. There’s also the coffee, the newspapers and the fact you don’t need to pay to enter, it’s warm and no-one’s going to ask you to leave because you have not bought or ‘monetized’ anything in the last half an hour.
So, if I have one message this week, it’s to get down to your municipal library and see all those beautiful books that will never grace your or anyone else’s shelves before they disappear for good, because that would be a tragedy.