Today I read the news that libraries in my hometown of Peterborough will have their hours cut in order to make savings to the council budget. Following Ange Fitzpatrick’s lead I thought I’d write about my own public library experience.
My story begins in Werrington Library which is sadly one of those affected by the cuts in Peterborough. When I think back I can paint a pretty life-like picture of the library in my mind. We’d arrive and lock up our bikes under the overhanging brick entrance. I always thought the main entrance to the building was rather sinister, no matter what the weather it was cold and dark, but once inside there was a homely smell of tea and biscuits coming from the community centre on the left. We would turn right though into the library itself, through the metal swing gate. From there it was just a short hop and a skip up the steps to the children’s area where Captain Pugwash, Asterix and TinTin were awaiting me.
When we were small my sister and I would go to story time (Michelle Obama was not one of the readers in Werrington) and as we got older we took part in the summer reading scheme. I was a slow reader and so never managed to fill up my sheet, my sister however ate books and I’m sure my parents valued the savings they made by taking her to the library rather than a bookshop for her fix.
By my teenage years I had caught up with my sister in the reading stakes. I’d progressed from the Hardy Boys to Point Horror and from there to Sara Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski series. As soon as I was done with one, there was another in the series to read. This is where the library really came into its own for me, there’s not enough money in the world, or space on my bookshelves for my crime fiction habit.
Now, although I’m a long way from those days in Werrington, I’m still using my local public library in the same way. I very rarely buy books any more. I prefer to borrow from the library because it’s more opportunistic; you take your chances on what will be on the shelves when you go in. Sometimes though if I’m really keen to read something I’ll place a reservation and I don’t begrudge the 85p I have to pay if it means I don’t have to go to the central branch to pick it up.
Image by The U.S. Army. Licenced under