Why we need libraries

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Historically libraries were set up to enable people to access books and information freely. Our society would be much poorer and less egalitarian if libraries disappeared… and knowledge was no longer shared. Libraries bridge the gap between those who have and those who do not.

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Libraries are portals to all of the world’s knowledge. And librarians make sure that knowledge continues to be recorded and saved for the future, even as information-storage devices and formats change. They are the defenders of intellectual freedom.

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Libraries can make a positive difference to individuals’ self-esteem, confidence, independence and sense of responsibility in regard to their own learning.

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Research shows that a strong library program that is adequately staffed, resourced and funded can lead to higher student achievement regardless of the socioeconomic or educational levels of the adults in the student’s household.

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Libraries build community. They are a place to explore, interact and imagine: where positive relationships are formed, recommendations are made, and a reading culture is formed. Libraries are one of the most effective ways to prevent social isolation of the elderly and vulnerable. In the words of a motto written on the wall of the ancient library of Alexandria: “The place of the cure of the soul”.

– compiled by Trisha Evans for Friends of Chagford Library

A call for more diversity

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“As a writer of mixed descent (half-Chinese, half-white) who was a voracious reader as a child, I never saw myself in the kind of books that I devoured,” writes YA novelist Amy McCulloch…which is why she finally sat down to write such a book herself.

“To make sure children see themselves represented in literature, we need to put books by diverse authors, featuring diverse characters, in their hands,” she says. “There are diverse authors out there, likes Sufiya Ahmed, Tariq Mehmood and Jacqueline Roy, writing about diverse characters – they just don’t get nearly the attention they deserve. Publishers need to make more of the diverse voices they have on their lists already.

“But it doesn’t just end with publishers. Retailers need to display them on their front tables. Librarians and teachers need to recommend them. And parents need to buy them. To reverse the trend, we need to celebrate the authors that are already blazing that trail. We need to be armed with the best possible opportunities – because trailblazing is never as easy as riding a wave….

“One day, I hope we see bookshelves that represent the rich and diverse world we live in.”

(Read the full article here.)

For recommendations of YA fiction with a rich range of characters and themes, visit the Diversity in YA blog.

The National Library Campaign

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mauricesendakposters9There’s good news out of Lincolnshire today!

A judicial review has firmly quashed plans for library cuts in the county, which has good implications for all us campaigning to keep our libraries open.

Lincolnshire County Council had planned (much like Devon County Council) to pass 30 libraries over to volunteers and community groups, with only 15 larger “library hubs” still staffed by the council. It was contested by Library Campaigners on these four grounds:

* That the consultation held on the proposed library cuts was unlawful, as a decision had already been taken.

* That the council failed to ensure that harm caused by their decision would be prevented, as required by the Equality Act.

* That the council failed to properly consider a bid to run the service from not-for-profit Greenwich Leisure Limited.

* That if the cuts go ahead, the county’s library service will no longer be comprehensive and efficient, breaching statutory requirements.

We hope this court decision makes all the other councils trying to cut library services around the country nervous indeed, particular as it follows Somerset’s success in stopping cuts through legal action too.

The Bookseller has a good article on the decision here.

The art above is by Maurice Sendak (1928-2012)

The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

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Photographs from the party by Lin Copeland.

Above, before the party starts. The long tea table is set with vintage tablecloths and flowers in old teapots, and strewn with Alice in Wonderland quotes. (Party design by Rachel Basham.) Community groups are setting up tables around the edges of the room showing their support for Chagford Library.

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Above, just some of the many cakes, cookies, tarts and scones donated by bakers in our community, served on vintage china.

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Above, top row: The door to the library. Andy Letcher playing bagpipes while the Dormouse heads for the library followed by three small girls all dressed as Alice.

Middle row: Chagword (Dartmoor’s Literary Festival) and the Chagford Swimming Pool are among the groups and organisations gathered to show support for the library.

Bottom row: Photos from the Extreme Reading Photo Competition (co-sponsored by The Mess Youth Centre); and a story about the importance of libraries contributed by storyteller Dan Worsley (with space on the board around it for people to add their own stories).

More photos to come.

The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

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Tea Party photos by Ann Higgens

Five photos from the day sent in by Friends member Ann Higgens — who was part of the hardworking “Pack of Cards” running the kitchen. (Thank you, kitchen team!)

Above, top left: The King of Hearts (Peter Shields). Top right: The Duchess and her Consort (Susan Harley & Neil Tappenden) photographed by Carol Amos, with violinist Becky Doe on stage in the background. Bottom left: Andy Letcher, who kicked off the party with with his pipes. Bottom right: Jenny & Steve Dooley in their top hats.

More tea party photos to come. (If you have any you’d like to share, please sent them to: friendsofchagfordlibrary@gmail.com.)