There is a lot of discussion about public libraries these days. Terms like the “end of libraries” and the “heart of communities” tend to be raised together.
As libraries daily undertake tasks that are important for communities’ wellbeing, making some libraries resemble marketplaces, it is not really the end of libraries but perhaps more the end-of-libraries-as-we-knew-them twenty years ago.
Libraries are still following the Carnegian principles of providing knowledge, having self service (open) stacks, and thus open access to not only books in print but also digital and electronic resources. While libraries’ digital resources can be accessed from home, libraries will continue to be at the physical centres of communities. This is why by organising events and bringing people together into the same room (not to mention providing essential digital access for those who do not have the facilities at home), libraries again promote important social and civic roles.
“Do other libraries do the same thing?” is a question we have heard after several events. Indeed, nowadays most libraries will invest time and resources to organise and even create interesting workshops and bring in authors and performers. Taking a quick glance at our News & events page or following us on Twitter will show just how many activities take place in all Westminster Libraries, all year round.
In the past couple of weeks St John’s Wood Library has offered two special crafts events for children: Shaun’s Commedia dell’ arte puppet-making craft and story telling and Natalie’s Rainbow Fish Collage. These creative, inspiring and well presented in-house creations brought many smiles to both children and parents. It is also important to point out that success comes when the whole team in the library supports and promotes such events.
St John’s Wood, the garden suburb, can get a little bit sleepy after six o’clock but library staff are determined to make the library a destination point for this neighbourhood. Earlier this week, the St John’s Wood Library Author Series hosted its seventh author, Jim Keeble, who presented his latest book The Happy Numbers of Julius Miles.
Mr Keeble told us how he gets his ideas for writing and why he wanted to write a book about love, fatherhood and also include the mystery of a crime. He told us about his ‘other writing’ for film and TV, for which he has collaborated with Oliver Stone, Ridley Scott, Kenneth Branagh, Mark Billingham, and John Landis.
Mr Keeble is a great storyteller and he enjoys observing people in their surroundings. He finds London very inspiring, ripe with visible and invisible characters, with lots of stories from the whole world.
The examples above illustrate how how libraries stay at the heart of communities and why we should care for our libraries.