Here’s a librarian joke for you:
One day, a chicken walks into the library and says ‘book!’ So the librarian lends the chicken a book, and it goes away.
Twenty minutes later, the chicken is back. It dumps the book on the floor, and says ‘book!’ So the librarian gives the chicken another book. The chicken takes it away, then twenty minutes later it’s back again. ‘Book!’
This continues ten times in a row. The librarian thinks, ‘that chicken is one fast reader!’
Finally, she follows the chicken down the road to the local pond, where a large frog is sitting on a lily pad. The chicken puts the book down. ‘Book!’ And the frog says, ‘Reddit!’
Ah, couldn’t resist. And it’s a fun way to introduce the subject of libraries. GHB has been in confessional mode lately, and I reckon it’s probably my turn. So here goes: as a child, I was scared of libraries.
OK, I’m exaggerating a bit. But I did find them…intimidating. Which is kind of a big thing to admit, what with me being a published writer and everything. I’m supposed to have grown up going back and forth to the library the whole time like that chicken, right? But I didn’t. I loved books, of course, and I read plenty of them. But my main source of reading matter was the school book club. This is fine, but in retrospect, I know I missed out. Had someone at the local or school library taken me in hand and guided me through the maze, I’m sure it would have been a revelation. But they didn’t offer, and I’d never have asked. I was too chicken to be like that chicken. So the book club was perfect for me; all I had to do was tick a bunch of boxes, and that was it! The next pile of books would be on its way.
My school library was the scariest one. Here’s a picture of it:
This picture was actually taken before it became a school library, hence the lack of books – but you get the idea. It was GRAND. It was IMPOSING. Probably full of terribly Serious and Important stuff, and not, say, How to be Topp or Whizz for Atoms (just LOOK at that ceiling! Imposing!)
I’ve had LOTS of conversations with other adults about libraries, as everyone’s worried we’re losing them. But what does your library mean to YOU? Actually, let me re-phrase that: what does your librarian mean to you? I had libraries, but did that alter my life radically? No. But a good librarian would have done. Such people are indispensable, yet they’re an endangered species, at a time when arguably, we need them more than ever.
Do YOU have a fab librarian? If so, tell me what makes them wonderful. What books did they help you find – the real discoveries?
Or maybe you don’t bother with the library, because it’s too far to go, since the one nearer to you got closed down. Or is threatened. Or your school doesn’t have one. If so, write to your MP and complain. Seriously! In your own words. It need only be a sentence or two.
Or maybe you too are a bit scared of your library? My message to you is: DON’T BE! Get to know your librarian: they won’t bite. I am older and wiser now, and I’m here to tell you they really won’t!