I recently stumbled upon a Twitter thread that was calling for libraries to be shut down.
The response to that tweet from readers and library users showcased the passionate defense of something that clearly still holds a lot of magic. And value.
The tweeter eventually retracted his statement especially after he received additional backlash when he asked whether adults still go to the library.
What struck me most about his statement was how much we need to do to make libraries more visible.
Particularly here in South Africa.
For me, libraries have always been a place of sanctuary, like a never-ending portal that provides you with the kind of adventures that are boundless, limitless and encourage the mind to grow.
It’s the one place I always knew I could go to (and still do) because it offered me refuge from the schoolyard bullies that plagued me through my primary school and high school years. And during my escape to the building, I’ve often encountered help from the librarians who always made me feel like I belonged.
Too many people simply assume that the function of a library is to only provide books.
Matt, a South African librarian based in the UK has written a post explaining that “public libraries have been about equality of access to information, learning resources and, yes, reading for pleasure.”
I recently asked Rudi, a Cape Town Public Librarian for some of his thoughts on what we can do to support our local libraries and here’s what he had to say:
1. Join your local library
“Public Libraries don't have access to the same funds that private and University libraries have, so we're subject to the necessary treatment of the various laws and procedures that require us to show how effective we can be to our communities.
By joining your local public library you tell us, the local Councillor, the Municipality, Provincial and National Government that you have a deep need for Public Libraries and our services.”
Numbers matter folks, so be counted as a member.
2. Make use of the services that are being provided
School holidays? Send your kids to the library. Libraries don’t just offer books. They have programmes like arts and crafts events, movie screenings, games days and market day events.
Rudi adds “because we are also an information service and offer diverse programs, we offer things like storytelling, homework assistance, holiday programs, reading programs and access to PCs with a librarian's expertise at your disposal.”
Most librarians are incredibly helpful and willing to go the extra mile if you need to source something for a project, looking for a book that’s not on the shelves or even if you just want a recommendation.
3. Give feedback & promote your library
One of the most important things we need to do is to tell librarians what great work they’re doing. Share info on social media. If people aren’t talking about libraries, those who never visit them start thinking they’re obsolete – like that tweeter.
In fact, Matt says that many libraries are under threat and that he worries that “in time public libraries will become generic council services that have a few books and computers with for profit organisations plugging what they offer into so-called community services.”
4. Lastly, ask how you can help
“Each public library has a different need, so feel free to contact your local library if you want to assist in a small (or big) way.“
Donate books if you can or volunteer your services for special programmes. Every little bit of help counts.
Do you visit your local library? What do you love most about it? Share your library love and we’ll spotlight it on W24 in a future post (Pictures more than welcome).
Here are our top reads for the month:
Don't Close Your Eyes by Holly Sedon
The Last Tudor by Philippa Gregory
Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben
The Break by Marian Keyes
Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman's Awakening by Manal al-Sharif
Origin by Dan Brown
Force of Nature by Jane Harper
Tower of Dawn by Sarah J Maas
The Night Brother by Rosie Garland
The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
Book of the month: Turtles All the Way Down
John Green is back with a new book, and one I daresay is his most authentic book yet. Turtles All the Way Down takes a candid look at mental health and chronicles a young girl’s struggle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It’s gut-wrenching and beautiful.
Here’s our review
Excerpt of the month: The Blessed Girl by Angela Makholwa
This is a novel that celebrates women who don’t settle, about being a go-getter and living the dream plus it’s extremely funny. Not convinced?
Competition and competition winners
Congratulations to Nolly Ntlakana , Chantal Cumming and Vicky Gasser who have each won a copy of Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey. We’ll be sending your prizes to you soon.
If you didn’t win this month, don’t worry – we’ve got a brand new giveaway for you. You can either win 1 of 2 copies of The Blessed Girl or 1 0f 2 copies of Wizards of Once. Enter below!
Until next time
Yours in books and library support