Guest Blogger Day – The Story Reading Ape on Public Lending Libraries

Me Thinking about stuff

First of all, I’d like to thank Lucy for letting me loose inside her beautiful home (oops, sorry Lucy, that chair was a bit weak, it’s poor legs just gave way) and for the lovely snack, sorry – MEAL – she laid on for me – banana cake, apple pie, fruit fritters, banana split ice cream (with cherries and pineapples), banana milkshake and everything – YUM.

But now I have to knuckle under and get on with the reason I’m here – sorry Lucy, your touchpad keyboard breaks just as easily as mine does, have you got a real keyboard, you do? Great, thank you – now, where was I?

Oh yes, the REAL reason – oh, Luceeee, you don’t NEED to put the dishes into the dishwasher, I’ve made SURE they are all clean – a sort of prewash cycle using my tongue….

Wonder why she’s gone that funny pale greenish type colour…maybe she ate too much…mmm…

Yes, back to business, the REAL reason I’m here is to tell you all about something I’m very worried about – Public Lending Libraries!

Why am I concerned about them?

There are fewer and fewer of them every week, especially here in UK….

It seems to me that either people don’t care about them, or they feel helpless to do anything about it when some local authority or other decides to close them, using the excuse “they are undersubscribed” (aka – underused)”and the monies used to keep them open can be better utilised elsewhere”. I find it very interesting that no-one ever specifies WHERE this ELSE is….

It begs the question WHY are they being underused?

Lets think about this for a few moments…AFTER we consider the when and why libraries were set up.

WHEN were Libraries set up?

The earliest known Libraries date back almost 5000 years, (click HERE to read what Wikipedia tells us about them, then come back to read some more of my wandering warblings) 🙂

Bert WOW


Done that?


Find it interesting?


I wonder how much knowledge has yet to be found, only today 11th July 2013, one newspaper reports that Archeologists say they have discovered a new form of primitive writing in markings on stoneware excavated from a relic site in Eastern China, dating back 5000 years, about 1400 years earlier than the oldest known written Chinese language (found on animal bones dating to 3600 years ago during the late Shang dynasty).


Probably the most famous Library (outside of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Unseen University) is the ancient Egyptian Library of Alexandria and we all know what happened to that – either someone forgot to blow out the candle before leaving or, someone wanted to destroy it because of all the knowledge it contained.(was this the the REAL reason the Nazi’s burnt books just before WWII started, to keep the German populus in ignorance). That always helps make it easier to control people, certain churches did the same thing until the printing press was invented in Europe…

I digress…

WHY were Public Lending Libraries set up?

According to Wikipedia, for the benefit of users who were not members of an institution such as a cathedral or college

So why are they being under used?

Maybe because in these days of widespread technology people are more interested in SEEING things rather than READING about things – a lot less energy involved and we are all told to be more energy efficient….


Maybe it’s cooler to be seen with the latest device, instead of the latest book. Although I don’t think this is the reason, after all, eReaders, etc, still need people to read them and use their imaginations to picture the characters and scenes in the same way as books.


Some other reason entirely. For example, is it because parents are such busy people, especially nowadays, that there’s little or no time to sit down and read, or even teach their children how to read. Anyway, that’s the job Teachers are paid to do! It IS? Oh, REALLY?

I find ALL of the above ‘reasons’ very sad, because by not reading, people are losing the ability and desire to use their imaginations. Why is THAT important? Because it was by using imagination that the Human Race went from hiding in burrows, up trees, in caves or anywhere they could to avoid being killed, or worse, eaten.

Ach, that could never happen nowadays, we’re MUCH too advanced for anything to threaten us now I hear you say…..REALLY?

If the Sun were to send an extra strong pulse of its matter in our direction, wiping out all the electrical and electronic systems, including the – GASP – Internet – how would we know how to fix things again if there are no longer any Libraries, with BOOKS that are not affected by electronic pulses….

Oh, there’s always the National Libraries….REALLY?

It strikes me that if the Governments of the world all thought the same about National Libraries as they seem to consider Public Lending Libraries, i.e. “they are undersubscribed and the monies used to keep them open can be better utilised elsewhere, like storage, secure storage ,very, very secure storage and located in places where the populus can never find them” the world would be a much knowledge poorer place.

Realistically speaking though, THAT is unlikely to happen. What is MORE likely to happen is that people will lose the ability to IMAGINE…and it is this ability that is vital for the species to retain.

go on

OK, so HOW do we keep this wonderful ability alive?

Keep the Public Lending Libraries OPEN

Use technology for the TRUE purpose it was intended for – to make life EASIER for people and give them MORE TIME to relax and reflect and read, for themselves and their children, and to teach their children not only HOW to read, but how to ENJOY reading… that will exercise everyone’s imagination for a start.

Encourage Authors to keep writing and to write more by raising their profile and status the way that Actors, Architects and Scientists (and lately Engineers) have had their status upgraded.

Keep ARTS (which does include literature) ALIVE in Schools, Colleges, Universities and – YES – Industry…there’s nothing worse than an ‘expert’ who cannot explain clearly what they have just done / made / invented / created, except to another ‘expert’.

Teachers – invite authors into your schools and classrooms, from locally grown ones who can actually visit, to International ones who can be talked with (and seen) using the internet, Skype, video conferencing (use a Library that has these facilities for FREE) a fourth grade class in Honduras has already set the example.

Authors – contact schools and offer them the chance to meet you and learn about you and your books.

LOCAL and NATIONAL GOVERNMENT Officials – FUND your Libraries, REWARD schools that encourage interaction with Authors – MAKE THAT MUCH VAUNTED HARD DECISION and spend money on education which develops the imagination of children and adults….I promise you will see and reap benefits beyond your current imagination….

Gasp – excuse me while I get back down from the top of Lucy’s table, I mistook it for a soapbox there for a moment or two…

Whatever is done to keep imagination alive has GOT to be good.

The Story Reading Ape

What do you do to keep the imagination alive? And how do you think we can keep governments from closing Public Libraries?


18 thoughts on “Guest Blogger Day – The Story Reading Ape on Public Lending Libraries

  1. Libraries need to move with the times in order to keep serving their community. Make spaces for use of technology, have up to date books on offer, offer children’s programmes. My fear is that if people read less, the result will be people who are less fluent in reading, as well as people who are unaware of the power of the written word.

  2. This was a terrific post. I love libraries and volunteered in a library while in high school and worked part-time in one while in college. They built a new library in the community I used to live in several years ago that has a whole room set up for children, a technology room where people can do research, download books for loan to their phone, tablet, or computer. There is a quiet room to encourage adults to sit a spell and read. The traditional card catalog has been replaced with a computerized version. The library communities need to update to the current and future trends as this one has.

  3. It’s a shame that public libraries are closing. They are wonderful places, and closing them down isn’t going to help anyone in the long run. It’s particularly important now, because there are fewer and fewer people who can afford to buy all of the books that they read.

    • I think if the school system would work together with the libraries and take the children to it at least once a month it would do a lot to get the kids to go on their own too.

  4. The tiny library in our little town added a genealogy and local history building. The Friends of the Library volunteers helped get petitions signed in the surrounding towns to get our town library designated a County Library, funded by tax pennies. Now we have a main library and three branch libraries. There are children’s programs from free books for newborns to teen activities, several book clubs at the buildings and online, summer reading programs from Read To Me to Adult Reading. The Friends of the Library staff a used book sale room to raise additional money for the library. The library has public computers with free wi-fi access, books on tape and cassette, films on DVD and online, electronic book lending and even eReader lending. I can’t speak for any other place in America, but the library in Harrison County, Indiana, is JUMPING! ~grin~

  5. I was lucky that I went to schools with nice libraries. Since I graduated high school, I have to buy books. There is no public libraries in my town. If there is one, then I don’t know about it at all…
    By the way, I am gonna quote this line, “Whatever is done to keep imagination alive has GOT to be good.”

  6. One of the libraries around here just finished another addition. They are currently building an amphitheater behind the library, facing into the park. It’s going to be awesome!
    The library has computers you can use, free wi-fi, DVD’s, a special children’s reading room, a summer reading program, and a cat.

    When I was a teenager my 3 sisters and I would walk across the little town where we used to live to visit the library. Usually spending half an hour or so deciding on what to borrow that time. The ladies there didn’t even have to ask for our card we were in there so often (almost daily in the summer). Then we would go by a local restaurant and get something to eat (Fifty cent ice cream cones, anyone?), and go read in the park for an hour or so before wandering home.
    Ah, childhood… 🙂

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