Thursday, 13 April 2017

Libraries Matter


In Scotland, like many other countries, libraries have seen devastating cuts to budgets with libraries closing at an unprecedented rate. CILIPS, the Scottish libraries and Information Professionals have launched a Libraries Matter Campaign. I have been a strong supporter of this campaign and I would like to take this opportunity to tell you why.

I was signed up to a library card at the age of 3. Not unusual today, but unheard of then. As an advanced reader I soon worked my way through the entire children's section of my local library. By the age of 10 I was the proud owner of an adult library card. Thus began my love affair with books. Yes, I received books as gifts and there were always books in the house, but not at the rate I read them. A voracious reader, I could read two books a day. I had some spirited discussions with librarians who said I hadn't read my book and couldn't return it the same day. I had to prove them wrong by telling them the plot. 

I joined the Royal Navy and then the Army as a nurse. This took me all over the world. The first thing I did when arriving at a new posting, was find the library. Postings abroad made it difficult for me to get books in English, but the library was always there like a comfort blanket. I started my career at Royal naval Hospital Haslar in Gosport. This becomes important later in my story. 

On leaving the services, I worked in academia for many years, leading to publication in academic textbooks and journals. This led to a whole new career as a crime writer, and I am now a full time author. This would not be possible without libraries fuelling my passion for reading. I have five books in the DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries and one book in the Fergus and Flora Mysteries. A new series, Cass Claymore Investigates, is also underway. 

Back to that posting to Gosport. I signed up to Gosport Library as an 18 year old. My books are now available to borrow in that library. It is an honour and a privilege to be in that situation. 

The picture is me with my books in my local library. I have been borrowing books for 53 years. The gentleman with me, a crime reader, has been borrowing books for 80 years. So together we have clocked up 133 years of library borrowing. That is why I believe Libraries Matter. That is why I am fighting to keep libraries open. Don't let your libraries close, they're important on many levels. 

You can find out more about CILIPS campaign on their website