When was the last time you set foot in your local library? If you have to stop and think, then maybe it’s time you went and checked it out. I am a proud, card-carrying member… always have been and for good reason.
Established in the mid-19th Century, public libraries were seen to be essential to the longevity of democracy. Libraries as purveyors of information, pursued the notion of establishing an educated and enlightened citizenry. And while this has not changed, libraries have become so much more than a repository for books and other printed matter. For me they are a vital civic space, providing the opportunity for anyone to be able to read the paper, check emails, conduct research, or engage in community programs. In a world of increasing social isolation, the library has become a community living room for people of all ages.
Fifty percent of Australians currently access the 1500 public libraries with more than 100 million people accessing these libraries annually (stats gathered in 2007-2008 by Matthew Allen). And while 50% is satisfactory, this is a figure I am sure many would love to see increase. The revamp of how libraries look is something that I think will continue to grow this figure. Just check out some of these incredible library spaces…
(images taken from the site Most Interesting Libraries of the World)
Who wouldn’t want to spend time in each of these spaces?
And while many of our local libraries are still in need of a face lift, the new(ish) Brisbane Square Library and State Library are stunning spaces. I for one, can’t wait for QLD Writers Centre to move into the State Library next year. I think the new location will completely reshape how they interact with the writing public.
So on this beautiful Sunday, if you are wondering what to do, join the growing number of enlightened citizens and head to your local library… you never know what might be happening!