Save Wootton Fields Library Campaign contacted me to ask for my support in helping them to fight the proposed move of the library by the council to temporary accommodation in the car park. My heart sank. This library which appears to be a loved and vibrant community library as well as a valuable school library should not have to face such a threat.
I sent a letter to the council but also thought to share my letter here.
“I have been prompted to write to you with regard to the suggested re-location of Wootton Fields Library by Northamptonshire Council.
I am an author and illustrator, very busy and quite distracted by work that I have to do, but I fear that a threat to a library, any library is too important not to provide some kind of challenge for. There is always a danger in a busy life of standing by and expecting others to do things.
I will try and be succinct as I expect you too are busy.
“This morning I finished reading a short story. At the very end of it there was a Welsh proverb: ‘A of ben, bid font: To be a leader, be a bridge.’
A library is like a bridge in so many ways.
I grew up with few books in the house. When you have little money food is more important than books. I learned to read in libraries and the library was a bridge, a gateway to so very many worlds of ideas and thought and places. It shaped the way I am today, and because of the things I learned in libraries I have had a fulfilling life.
A library is a bridge where people meet, sometimes it is a refuge, in is a place of learning, for some it will be a safe place they can come to. What you have in Wootton Fields library is a colourful, beautiful and obviously thriving centre for a community and this would be damaged, perhaps beyond repair, by moving it, especially as the move suggested is rather uncertain.
In these troubled economic times we should nurture knowledge. We need to raise a generation of young people who are intelligent and cultured, with empathy and independent minds. This is the kind of thing you can grow in a library. In order to work a way out of the financial crisis that we are in leaders should be putting more money in to libraries, not threatening them with closure. They should be supporting the staff who work so hard here, not making them fight to keep something so excellent open.
So many dismiss books and reading as a ‘leisure activity’. Reading is more than that and books are more than that.
“A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called ‘leaves’) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time, proof that humans can work magic…” (Carl Sagan)
Libraries make these books available to everyone, no matter their income. They are a place of real democracy and should be celebrated as such.
To be worthy of the name of leaders you need to be bridge builders. Build, do not destroy. The value of a library cannot be measured in economic units and yet it is worth its weight in gold and is a living heart of a community.
Libraries change lives. Do not close the door on something so important.”
So far I have not even received an acknowledgement of receipt of my letter.