Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thursday Thoughts...

If someone suggested the idea of public libraries now, they’d be considered insane. If you said you were going to take a little bit of money from every taxpayer, buy a whole load of books and music and games, stick them on a shelf and tell everyone, ‘These are yours to borrow and all you’ve got to do is bring them back,’ they’d be laughed out of government.
Peter Collins, The Secret Life of Libraries

Brilliant! Don't you just love this thought?  In amongst the madness we call the sophistication of the 21st century, this is so true - people would say "no way, you can't do that!!".

And yet, the pubic library is the best thing we ever did (a big claim I know, and I'm on shaky ground to defend it, but it feels true to me).

I love that libraries are there for everybody; that they don't discriminate. I love that with the big institutions like the National Library of Australia they take it upon themselves to collect every single book published in Australia, so you know if you ever need to find it or read it - they will have it.

I love that public libraries have free wi-fi access and computers for folk who need to log on for half an hour - and it's free! I love that they are knowledge hubs for our communities and create spaces that welcome folk and encourage us to read, explore, discuss and feel happy.

OK so I'm a raving fan, but they truly are special places.

Our local library lets us hang art exhibitions every month and the place is filled with toddlers having story time and experiencing the magic of being read to; parents learning how good it is to read to their kids; older folk practising how to upload photos to computers and email their grandchildren; teenagers doing social media in the afternoon and borrowing music; middle aged folk reading newspapers in the mornings and everybody borrowing books left right and centre.  If you need access to a Justice of the Peace to sign your official documents, the Library hosts them, and if you want to volunteer to read at the aged person's home, the Library can arrange it. If you need practise with English skills - library volunteers are the folk to help you. They are truly good places.

In honour and support of public libraries!

This is a photo of me (with short hair) teaching a book making workshop in the suspended 'pod' in Brisbane City Council's library - how cool is this?


  1. This is just such a wonderful, WONDERFUL read. Thank you Fiona, I share your feelings - they are the best places! Big sanctuaries where you can find your little space, and claim it. :)

  2. Hi Fiona - I don't know how I found your blog, but it's in my google reader. When this post popped up I had a double take - it's BRISBANE!!! Love that library, and love that it's USED. It has a kind of well-worn, comfortable feel to it thanks to the hundreds of hands and feet and bodies that handle, tramp through and generally make use of what it has on offer. That pod is the best - I often look at it on the way downstairs - so great that you've occupied it!!!

  3. Fiona,
    I am a 'raving fan' too. Our library does not look as hi tech as the Brisbane one but it is the hub of the community and I love it. I went to the National Library of Wales last week and being surrounded by all that book history was wonderful. Long may it continue! Lesley

  4. What a wonderful post. And I agree with you 100 percent that libraries are one of mankind's greatest accomplishments. While bookstores seem to be becoming an endangered species, libraries, at least in our area, seem to be thriving as the heart of the community. Hopefully, it will always be that way.

  5. Waaaaay cool Fiona!!!!! As a very small child I helped in our local library, packing books for outlying farms and cattle stations. The wonderful thing about libraries is that they make books accessible to EVERYONE.

  6. there are tiny libraries all over our very large county, with very small population...and i love them!
    tell us about the pod.

  7. What a scary thought - that libraries could become obsolete - even though I don't use the local one very often, it is a great comfort to know that it is there and it always feels warm and fuzzy. xoxox

  8. Wonderful post Fiona! I love my public library; although it has nothing to compare to your incredible, suspended pod - way cool!

  9. My world is going so fast I didn't realise I hadn't replied until now - eek!

    Louise - They ARE special places aren't they??!?!?

    Kate - thanks for popping by (however unexpected for you!) - and what fun to know the library as well! It's a very cool pod isn't it and I felt honoured to be in there.

    Lesley - I love a good library and the Brisbane one is pretty flash; our local one is warm and friendly and full!

    Hi Jennifer - yes they are the true heart and hub of a community as far as I can tell and I hope they continue to flourish.

    So true Jo - they are democracy in action.

    Hi Velma - I love the little libraries too. This one is anewish library in Brisbane (big city). The pod is kind of suspended up there ad is used for meetings and group discussions - I expect bookgroups meet there and so on.

    Hi N - yes its warm and fuzzy and friendly!

    Jane - our local library is MUCH smaller and less dazzling; but I do think this is a very cool pod to have in a library.

  10. wow, stunning shot. You guys are amazing in what you fit it. I thought I crammed heaps into my day! Christine


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