What the local library means to my family

I was dismayed to learn recently that our local library is under threat of closure. In fact, East Sussex could soon lose a quarter of its libraries as a result of council plans. A consultation is underway. Meanwhile, local residents are being urged to write to their councillors to voice their opposition to the plans.

As well as doing all of this, I thought it would be wrong not to blog about it. Here, then, is what the local library means to my family.

While there are certain aspects of parenting that we can improve, reading is something that we nailed early on. Bedtime stories have been a permanent fixture for all three children since they were under a year old. All three had library cards before the age of two as well.

We go to change books every couple of weeks. In fact, it has become part of our weekend routine to head to the library before we go anywhere else. Without it, my kids wouldn’t have read nearly as many titles as they have. Both Dylan and Xander are doing brilliantly with their reading at school and the library has played a massive part in that.

This takes me to another important point. Dylan is on the Accelerated Reader programme and has quickly reached a high level. Xander is likely to start it soon too and I’m confident that he’ll progress at a similar rate. The school library has a limited number of books of Dylan’s current level that appeal to him and this creates a problem.

He is expected to take two tests a week but this isn’t easy as most of the books he comes home with are too long. It’s a lot to ask of a seven year old. To be honest, I would struggle to read a couple of 200-page books a week on top of everything else.

The library, however, has plenty of options that are in the Accelerated Reader database. They could be the difference between him and his classmates continuing to enjoy reading or falling out of love with it.

With this in mind, it should be pointed out that the boys’ primary school now has to take on 90 children each year instead of 60. This directive, of course, originates from the council. So, in effect, it is increasing demand for library facilities with one hand and taking them away with the other.

Then there’s the Summer Reading Challenge. Both boys have enjoyed this over the last couple of years and it provides an ongoing educational activity to keep them occupied during the summer holidays. This is a vital time for kids to keep up with their reading. We would really miss it if the library were to close.

There are other ways in which we’ve benefited from the library too. Due to the closure of our local Sure Start Centre, we had to take Amelie to be weighed at out library. More recently, we’ve started taking her to Rhyme Time which is a great way of increasing literacy and social skills.

So a cornerstone of our local community is under threat. I, for one, am not going to stand for this. If you’re a local resident, please consider filling out the consultation.

Tell the council what your library means to you. If you feel the same as me, you may want to mention that the proposals contradict key elements of its own vision statement. For example, I don’t see how removing facilities is going to improve adult and child literacy or health and wellbeing.

Similarly, if you live elsewhere and your local library is under threat I urge you to make your voice heard.

As the Manic Street Preachers once put it, libraries gave us power. Let’s not allow it to be taken from us.

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