12th July, 2020

Bookish Stuff: The Importance of Libraries 

I know, I know: I am basically preaching to the converted here, but I think this cannot be said often enough: Libraries are a vital part of any community and we need to protect them!

Ever since Covid-19 hit the world our local library, which is conveniently located just across the street, has been closed. And we miss it. A lot! We are in a very priviledged position that we were able to make up for the library's closure by buying a ton of books to tide us over, but this is obviously not something that everyone can afford. 

I have been a member of the library since I was a little kid.  I have fond memories of riding to my hometown's branch on my bike as a kid and on my Vespa scooter as a teenager every week and checking out as many books as I could carry (thankfully, there is no limit to the number of books you can borrow here). Our son got his own library card when he turned three and he was so proud of it that he showed it to every single kid in kindergarten. 

Libraries are important: as a place to find information, as a provider of free books (and therefore education) and as a meeting place for a lot of people who might otherwise be lonely. Yet, some politicians still seem to think that libraries have become less essential, arguing that the internet is available everywhere nowadays. Ignoring the fact that this is not true for everyone, these people are also completely missing the point about what libraries do and what they are for: They can be a valuable source for citizens who don't have the financial means to buy books for themselves. For but a small annual fee, you can borrow as many titles as you want, including the latest bestsellers - and I must say that our library is always surprisingly up to date on new publications. Readers also come across books or genres they maybe wouldn't have found otherwise which helps widen people's horizon. And last but not least: The atmosphere of a room full of printed books and the weight of one of these in your hands simply cannot be experienced on the internet. 

It's a shame that so many libraries are being closed all over the world due to cuts in funding. The fact that our branch has been closed for more than three months now has made us painfully aware how significant the work of of these wonderful places really is. We've been missing it deeply and hope that it can reopen after the summer holidays. We'd never want to imagine our community without our library, and we hope that politicians will eventually see sense and support these valuable community hubs. 

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All texts and photographs are mine, unless indicated otherwise.