Thursday, 5 October 2017

National Libraries Week - Savita Kalhan


National Libraries Week has moved from its traditional slot in February. It will will now be held from the 9th to the 16th of October. It’s planned to be a week-long celebration of what libraries are, what they can do for you, for children, students and adults. Libraries will be showcasing their services, events, with themes such as digital, creative, family, inspirational, health, employment, education, families and diversity. Libraries week covers not just public libraries, but all libraries - including school libraries. 

The Facts

According to statistics compiled by the Carnegie Trust, 250 million visits were made to libraries in 2016. 15-24year olds visit the library more than over 55s. Three out of four people in the UK say that libraries are essential to their communities. 51% of us have a library card, and 41% have used a library over the last year.

Looking at these facts makes me wonder why libraries are still being closed, librarians continue to lose their jobs, and children denied easy access to their local libraries, when libraries are clearly fundamental to communities.

After a month long closure, Finchley Church End Library reopened last week in its new premises. My teen reading group met there for the first time after the summer break on Monday 2nd October. It is the only day of the week that we can hold our teen reading group meet as under-18s are not permitted to enter a library without an adult. Because it is classified as a "Core Plus" library, most days are self-service and for adults only. Some of my teens typically go directly to the library after school, which they will no longer be able to do. Kids in Year 11, aged 15, will be allowed access but only with a registration form signed by their parents and stamped by the school. 16-18 year-olds will need a signed registration form from their parents. 

But still the library staff there do their best to support the teen reading group, and provide us with enough books, which have to be gathered from across the borough. Teens are reading and they want more choice, they want more books. 

My local library was full of kids doing their homework, reading, hanging out, after school, before going home. They can only do that on a Monday now. In fact, the situation is much the same across the whole of Barnet, and, from stories I've read, it is possibly the same across the whole of the UK. It is a dire situation.

So please visit your library during libraries week, and use the hashtag #librariesweek and tweet/facebook etc to help publicise and celebrate libraries – while we still have them!

by Chris Riddell


Lynne Benton said...

How appalling! I always went to the library on my own, all through my teens, and assumed that was/is the norm. It gives out the message that unaccompanied teenagers can't be trusted, which is unlikely to persuade them that libraries are a Good Thing, so they will avoid libraries ever after, even when they're adults. (Maybe that's the thinking behind it: if they can cut down on library users, the powers that be can close a few more...!) Thank you for bringing this dreadful idea to our attention.

Savita Kalhan said...

I went to the library alone too - it was a haven for me. I think it's terrible that it's no longer open to teenagers.