I had a favourite place to go as a kid. I’m thinking a lot of you would be the same. This place was large and exciting. It was full of my favourite things and it was totally free. What would I have done without my library?
I’d spend hours, sitting cross legged on a tiny window seat reading through my latest collection. Then I fill up my rucksack with my new choices and walk home, bubbling with excitement. I used to love the feel of the books pines pressing against my back. I spend weeks enjoying my reads, before taking them back and starting all over again.
The library fed my addiction. And thank goodness it did. I wasn’t from a well-off family, we couldn’t afford to buy books on a whim – so libraries were vital for me. I can honestly say I wouldn’t have become the author I am now without access to one.
Working in schools, I spoke to young people where the situation was the same – they relied heavily on the library service. Not only to borrow books, but also to access services such as creative writing groups in the area. Where else would they go? I worked in a deprived area - for these students a fully functioning library was vital.
So it breaks my heart when I hear of these services being cut across the country. Ok so, I’m lucky where I am in West Sussex, we’re not too badly affected. But I’m constantly seeing on my Twitter and email timeline a different picture being painted across other authorities.
So by the time you read this, I will have ended my first rally – Speak up for Libraries in London – where authors such as Alan Gibbons, Philip Adargh, Cathy Cassidy and I will be speaking alongside other speakers to help fight back against these cuts.
I’m not the type who usually gets involved in demonstrations such as these. I’m usually the type of person that moans quietly in the privacy or my living room, or posts a grumbling comment on Facebook. But this is different. This ignites the spark of the younger me. A child who needed the access of the library service in order to develop and flourish – and there’s so many of these children still out there.
As I will be saying in my speech. Bevan once said of the National Health Service “it will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it”
The same goes for libraries.