“Doctor Who: You want weapons? We’re in a library. Books are the best weapon in the world. This room’s the greatest arsenal we could have. Arm yourself!
(from Tooth and Claw in Season 2)” ― Russell T. Davies
This is the start of Book Week Scotland which runs 15–21 November and is supported by Creative Scotland and SLIC.
Frontline staff in health and social care, delivery drivers, postal workers, refuse workers, retail food outlets: all of these people and more have been rightly praised for the services they provided throughout this dreadful Covid pandemic. All through the worst days of lockdown when most of us tried to stay home in order to protect ourselves and others from this potentially deadly virus, essential workers kept going. And we learned from March 2020 onwards just who was an essential worker in our communities – and it was mostly those doing some of the least paid employment.
Today I wish to praise the work of our librarians and of libraries.
I taught myself more in the library than school taught me.Terry Pratchett
In Orkney we have an excellent Library and Archive service. After a brief spell of having to be also locked down, the Orkney Library was able to provide a limited service where you could pick up and return books. They also provide a service to all the islands of Orkney. Gradually, like everywhere else, it was able to open up even more, and today I can book a slot in the Archive to continue my research using the excellent resources they have there.
Even when all libraries were closed I was able to download reading material free from Borrow Box with just the use of my library card – highly recommended.
Wherever I have lived one of the first things I did would be to join the local library – some of course are better than others – but they all provide access to free reading materials, and now many other services. Their role in the community is essential in providing information freely to citizens.
Libraries are under threat from those who would deny citizens the right to free reading material and sources of information. For local politicians in many parts of Scotland, libraries are seen as ‘extras’ which can be cut back on.
Libraries are essential parts of our communities and most importantly they need to be local so that there are no barriers to accessing their services.
People were stupid, sometimes. They thought the Library was a dangerous place because of all the magical books, which was true enough, but what made it really one of the most dangerous places there could ever be was the simple fact that it was a library.Terry Pratchett