Top authors celebrate Libraries Week
Libraries Week is a chance to celebrate the UK’s much-loved libraries - it takes place this year from 8 to 13 October.
The theme for the 2018 Libraries’ Week is wellbeing – and the National Literacy Trust have just released research which found that children who enjoy reading & writing have significantly better mental wellbeing than children who don’t.
We asked top authors to tell us why they think libraries are so special.
“Being bored in Eastham library, on the Wirral, waiting for a friend to choose a book, turned me into a reader one long, hot summer in the seventies. I can still remember the smell of the clear vinyl book covers as they melted in the heat. If it weren't for libraries, I wouldn't be an author!”
“Libraries made me the writer I am. Every Saturday as a little girl I would borrow seven books and this idea that there was an endless supply of voices, and worlds, and stories to disappear into seemed to me to be a slice of magic!”
“By making reading fun and accessible in a free and welcoming space, our librarians equip and empower children with lifelong learning and literacy skills, which help close the gap between social advantages in children.”
“My memories of libraries were the smell, there’s something about the smell of books that makes me feel excited. I also liked the quiet then, it always made it feel like it was an important place. The thing I liked the most, was when I took a wrong turning and found myself in the grown-up section - I felt cleverer just being there.”
“As a child, I was in and out of libraries constantly, always in the sports section. I loved trawling them to see the latest book about any sport I was interested in - boxing, cricket, football, rugby, anything I could get my hands on. One day, I came across a football book called ‘Only a Game’ by an Irish footballer from Millwall called Eamonn Dunphy. It was to change my life. The book was Dunphy’s diary of his last season as a pro footballer. I was 14 when I read it and convinced I was going to one day be a pro footballer for Swansea City. Guess what? That never happened. My dreams of writing my own version of a season long diary as a pro footballer were gone for ever. Or so I thought.
“One day, on a school author visit some 30 years later, I met Swansea City footballer, Ashley Williams. The following season, Swansea were promoted to the Premier League, and I contacted Ashley with an idea. To write a diary of his - and the club’s - first ever season in the Premier League. Thankfully, he agreed, and I spent a wonderful 12 months putting the book together with Ashley. I finally got to write my footballer’s diary, it was just not my own, but somebody else’s! If I hadn’t had access to a library as a teenager, I would never have read that diary by Eamonn Dunphy, a book that lived with me forever. And I certainly would never have had the idea of asking a Premier League footballer if I could write his. That book with Ashley changed everything for me, such is the attraction of the Premier League to so many people, and led me to becoming a full time author. I owe it all to library visits I made as a kid. Libraries are precious, we need to preserve them so that some other youngster might get the type of inspiration I got.”
“As a child, visiting the library to choose new books was the highlight of my week - my sister and I loved it so much we made a pretend library at home and issued books to each other with tickets tucked in a pocket at the front of each volume.
“I love going to the library every bit as much today and always have a pile of borrowed books on the go - and it's wonderful to be able to give something back now I'm a published author by reading my books to the visiting children at story time.”
“I used to spend hours in my local library in the school holidays as I found it inspiring being surrounded by so many words and ideas. I feel the same today and would urge all children to love their libraries - they are wondrous places!”
“In the last year of my degree in Reading, my mum became terminally ill. I spent the last two terms largely in Leeds, served by the spectacular Leeds Reference Library, barely having to go back to Reading at all because Leeds got me the books I needed. She died 6 days after seeing me graduate, which I probably wouldn’t have been able to do without Leeds libraries.”
So last year, as Patron of Reading, I helped create a library in a local primary school. Just before it opened a Year 2 child popped her head round the door, gazed round wide-eyed at the newly filled book cases and said in an awed tone: ‘I heard there was a library . . . where you could get books.’ She spoke in exactly the tone of wonder she might have used to say: ‘I heard there was a dragon . . . ’. Not surprising really, since there are dragons in the library. Lots of them. I bet she finds one.