A Library

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.

About Jackie

I am an artist and writer. I live in a small house by the sea in Wales where I write, paint, walk and watch and dream of bears and whales. I love to read, have a wish for wings and prefer the company of animals to that of humans, though at times I can be quite friendly. I am learning how to work with wood engraving tools and hoping to show that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
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13 Responses to A Library

  1. jodi says:

    What will the original building be used for? Why would they want to move it to the car park?

    • Jackie says:

      Don’t know but I think they are after closing it by stealth. Talking of re-location but not really sure where to or for how long. You would have to contact the library to find out more. Council are busy doing sums to show how expensive it is and how much they can save, but you can’t evaluate the economics of a library in bald economic terms. The wealth of a library just cannot be measured like that.

  2. Anita Gleason says:

    Hello,
    I just wanted to say your words so eloquently spoke to my heart. As an educator in the U.S. and someone who haunted the local library as a child, I could not indicated how important libraries are in any better format. Each word you wrote in your letter rang true. I sincerely hope your civic leaders are truly leaders and not just elected officials. Best of luck!

    Anita Gleason

  3. Meran ni Cuill says:

    Jackie, can you send this letter, which you’ve already written,to several newspaper locally, and maybe not to locally?

    Meran

    • Jackie says:

      I have sent to councillors and local news papers and radio and have not had one acknowledgement even to date. I have heard though that they are being a bit petulant towards some of the people who are trying to fight this corner. I guess that is what their idea of democracy is.

  4. Meg says:

    Wonderful post Jackie. I’ve shared as far and wide as possible. These are sad times.

    • Jackie says:

      Thanks Meg. Going to do a blog post with links inspired by your last blog post. Have you been to this library. It looks amazing. Just the kind of place for an illustrator to have an exhibition.

  5. What a shame Jackie. The very small amount of dealings we have with the council here in OXON mostly results in delays, miscommunications and very little results. Being mostly Canadian and only a little bit British I can say I hate dealing with the council. Wish there was another way.
    Oh! Actually, just thought of one thing which helped us once; putting the issue on public forums.

  6. Jayne Truran says:

    Jackie
    What a moving letter. Heartfelt and do true
    Let’s hope they do read it and do the right thing.
    Sad times indeed for libraries

  7. Brenda says:

    Jackie,
    I hope that your letter will change the minds of this council. I can’t even imagine how dreary to relocate a wonderful library to a parking lot. This speaks of a certain smallness of spirit, I would think on the part of this council, and unfortunately it seems that in times of financial restraint the important, cultural, and relatively inexpensive instutions suffer. So this is why it is so important to speak out, as you are.
    I shared your post on my blog because I know that the people who visit me will feel touched by your message.
    I think it is so important to honour messages that inspire.
    Brenda

  8. Brenda says:

    P.S. Jackie, in case you wish to see how I’ve shared this post, my blog address is “mullin avenue workshop”. (I’m not sure if you could find it, but thought you might want to know.) :)
    Brenda

    • Jackie says:

      Thanks Brenda. Will take a look. Still no word from any of them. Wondering if I should print it off and post it to them,. So easy to delete an email. Somehow printed on paper it seems more real. Which in itself says much about the power of a library and its place in society. The internet can’t replace a library, but can only work along side it.

  9. Ann says:

    Jackie,

    I have come over from Brenda’s blog, Mullin Avenue Workshop. I hope the council will listen to your words as well as the words from what I am sure are many other concerned citizens of your area. Books, libraries, and librarians were a huge part of my growing years as well as college, career and most importantly, motherhood. I am pleased to have raised two avid readers who by the age of 18 months were attending “story time” at our local library and learning to joy of books and how to sit quietly and listen.

    Best wishes.

    Ann

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