Free. Almost nothing is free in our modern world, that feels like it is tumbling inexorably into a dystopian fiction novel where the individual has fewer and fewer real freedoms. But libraries - despite being marginalised and squeezed by ever decreasing council budgets - offer us that freedom.
Libraries are the great leveller in the community. They give us access to so much. For free.
Our reality seems to include more and more struggling households - with some people holding down several jobs and yet still having to decide if tonight it will be heating or food. In this world, the luxury of buying a book to escape into, or maybe paying for internet access, seems frivolous. But libraries give you that for free.
By joining your local library you open up a world of possibility...
When most people think about libraries they think of books, so lets start there (but there is more, so read on!)
Reading. As an author and as someone who has studied literature at university I may be biased. But, I strongly believe that accessing books through reading offers us so very much. It not only gives us a place to escape to when we have to stay where we are, but it introduces us to new knowledge, places and experiences that may be outside of our current surroundings.
Love the internet? Libraries also give us that. For free. If you are one of the people who can't afford the internet if they want to eat (and most of us are just a few 'happenings' away from this) this is a most wonderful benefit! Look up your consumer and workplace rights, look for a new job or somewhere to live, or just escape for a moment onto the world wide web. For free.
One thing I was surprised to find at my local library (I recently rejoined after a few years away from the library after changing cities) was the amount of activites and clubs that are centred around the library! Knitting circles, reading clubs, coffee mornings, historical societies, children's activities: the library is bringing people together. Everyday. For free.
So let's stand up for our libraries and support them in their time of crisis, when squeezed councils are threatening to close them down. Remember that without them our lives would be duller, more isolated and let's not forget more expensive.
Emma Woodthorpe is an author and illustrator and is set to publish her first children's picture book in 2020. Emma has studied Literature at university and used to want to be a librarian. She loves the smell of the books.