“The National Literacy Trust says that children who go to a library are twice as likely as those who don’t to read well. It is not just picking up a book. It is the social experience of reading, talking about the books, browsing, comparing what you have read with family and friends. Librarians are gate keepers in that process. They open doors to new worlds, new possibilities. They ask library visitors to evaluate the information on offer. Most importantly, they give access to narratives. Children and adults do not just need information to thrive as thinking beings, but stories. Libraries are the temple of story. They are not in decline because of some natural, historic progression, but because of the monstrous cultural vandalism of savage cost-cutting. We will pay a terrible price for the behaviour of our masters.” (Alan Gibbons)
- Oxford University study shows that reading books improves your life chances. Public libraries are seen as an important way to improve reading skills in South Korea where 180 new ones are being built. It’s interesting also that Russia is expanding its libraries in order to boost Russian culture.
- Using a library improves your children’s reading ability according to National Literacy Trust.
“… a beacon of civilisation, a mark of what we as a country stand for. For we remain, per capita, the most literate country in the world – we produce and read more newspapers and books per head than any other nation. And it’s vital we keep it that way, as economic inequalities multiply, and the world divides into information rich and information poor.” (Tim Lott, The Independent).
“For children, it is vital they can visit libraries and speak to expert librarians who can help them discover their taste in books,” she said. “I think it’s rubbish when children do their homework on the internet. Half the time they just print out a whole lot of bumph they don’t understand. Doing their own research is much better than churning out stuff from the internet.” Julia Dondalson, children’s laureate
- Scientific research has recently shown the act of reading the printed word seems to imprint knowledge better than using a computer screen.
“A library has more effect on reading than a phonics check. Being able to have a wide range of books that appeal to different interests will do more to drive literacy than some of the government’s strategies.” Russell Hobby, general secretary of NAHT.
- The community aspect of libraries, including storytimes/rhymetimes and free picture books is especially important for new mothers and their children. Children can easily read five books per week and all but the most wealthy parents could not easily afford this.
- Even leaving aside books, the lack of access to the internet can reduce exam results by a grade. Public libraries can provide that access to children who do not have it at home.
- Lack of literacy exacerbated by lack of adequately funded libraries can lead to problems for British business, says the CBI.
- Libraries are one of the places people go when school fails them – Terry Pratchett credits his education to Beaconsfield Public Library. They’re all about lifelong learning.
- Borrowing of children’s books is increasing.
- Education is for adults and senior citizens too – senior citizens use libraries for education (notably, the U3A), students for quiet study, those new to computers for computer training.
- 92.6% of children have been to a public library, Sep 2011.
- New York has recently declared public libraries are educational institutions.
“I have yet to meet the tiny tot who doesn’t enjoy sitting with a grown up and turning the magical pages of a book. “For many children the library is the only place they will ever be physically engaged with all the possibilities there are on the shelves. “That is why many small children’s activities are based in library buildings, a resource not to be found or replicated anywhere else. “Having a space where the sole purpose is to engage with words and pictures, to create memories that last a lifetime, is a delight and not to be given away lightly.” (Ann Chambers, deputy chief executive of Howgill Family Centre)