“Libraries raised me.”
If it were not for a library, I would not be a writer.
As child, it was a place of fun, where I would sit cross-legged, surrounded by numerous picture books, because when you are 4 years old, why read one book when you can read six at time, as my Dad waited for me patiently to choose the three that I could take home with me.
Leaving pictures for words, I entered the world of Roald Dahl, fascinated by the tales he weaved and Quentin Blake’s eclectic illustrations of Matilda, Fantastic Mr Fox and The Witches. A love affair that has continued until adulthood to the point that I still leave my bedroom window open at night and secretly hope that The BFG will send me a dream as he passes.
As an adult, I Immersed myself within the worlds created and visited the world of my imagination without leaving my room, seeing realms in Middle Earth with Tolkein, the gritty inner city streets of London with Martina Cole and the out of the ways towns of middle America with Nora Roberts.
And to this day, the most vivid and happiest memories of my childhood were of being in the local library with my Dad and it was the imagination fostered within these books and these great buildings that has made me the writer that I am today.
Fast forward to last year and I found myself outside Kirkcaldy library on a Saturday morning and saw something I didn’t expect..
There was a queue to get into the building.
Finding all the reference tables occupied, I took myself up the family research room and began writing, happily immersing myself within the peaceful silence of my surroundings.
A couple of hours and a coffee break later, I chatted away, as I often do, to the librarian about a couple obscure subjects I was reserching and a few minutes later I found myself with a list of suggestions and access to some archived newspapers clips – exactly what I was looking for. For if a librarian can't find it doesn't exist.,
Leaving the library later in the afternoon, I found myself looking at the people sitting in café, in the reference room and as I returned a book, I overheard a conversation between an elderly gentleman and a librarian as he told her what he had done with his day and that’s when I fully appreciated that a library is not just a building to house a collection of books.
A library is a community centre by another name.
So, when I tead last year of the proposal and subsequent decision to close 16 libraries within Fife. I reacted to the news with genuine upset.
How can these places, these treasures that are so needed not just within the Fife community but every community be eligible for destruction because of a budget cuts.
Then I wondered about the children who may not have access to free books, I thought about the queue of people who may have nowhere else to go and I thought about that elderly gentlemen who may not have someone to talk to.
Libraries are the souls of our communities and we can’t let them go without a fight.
There must be another way.
There has to be another way.
So, if I could leave with you with one parting request, I would like it to be this; please support the 38 Degrees campaign by taking a minute, not even that, to send an e-mail to the 16 elected councilors who have an important decision to make this coming Tuesday. They can keep the libraries open for another 12 months and this may just be the time that they need to survive long-term.
We all have a voice and we can all make a difference.