Today I am here today with a post for the YAShot Blog tour. YAShot is one-day YA and MG festival taking place in Uxbridge on the 28th October of this year. YA Shot is going to be launching a year-long programme of free author visits to libraries across Hillingdon. The event will have 69 authors who will be doing many panels, talks, workshops and signings all day long. As part of the blog tour, I have teamed up with one of the authors who will be attending YAShot and that is Emma Pass. Emma Pass wrote Acid and The Fearless which are two amazing action packed books! She is here today to talk about why we need to protect libraries.
Forget Hogwarts. Never mind Narnia. When I was a kid, there was only one place where magic really happened. In this place, I could go anywhere. I could be anyone. I could fly; I could make myself invisible; I had superpowers.
That place was my local library.
As soon as I stepped inside, I was in another world, intoxicated by the scents of paper and ink. I never knew what I might find – what worlds I’d find between the covers of the books that waited for me there. And even better, I got to take that magic home, and it didn’t cost me a penny. For a child with a reading habit like mine, the library was a lifeline, feeding my book addiction and filling up my brain with stories.
Later, as an adult, I got a job in a library, where I had the chance to see life from ‘the other side of the desk.’ By now, I was an aspiring author, writing stories of my own. I spent every day surrounded by books, by authors, by words. That familiar magic filled the air; I took it in with every breath. When I was supposed to be shelving books, I’d find a quiet corner in which to read. Between customers, I’d scribble ideas down on old receipts and tickets and request cards. I’d look at the books on the shelves and daydream about seeing my name on a book spine one day.
But there was more to it than that.
The stereotype of the library as an archaic, dusty institution, inhabited by stern, bespectacled librarians saying SHHH! every time you so much as breathe persists to this day. But that’s never been my experience, even as a child. The library I worked in was a cheerful, welcoming place. We had author events, storytimes, readings and more. And best of all was seeing children come in – some already keen readers like I had been, others just starting their first uncertain forays into the world of books.
I’ll never forget the fourteen year old boy who “didn’t read”, only, after we recommended a list of authors to his frustrated mother, suddenly, he did. Or the kids devouring their favourite series who came running in every week to see if the next book in the sequence had arrived.
I was able to volunteer to help out at events like the Big Book Bash, an annual celebration of books and authors for young people in care. At one time I was asked to join a team of writers for a website that recommended books to young people. Later on, I was lucky enough to run two writing groups, too – one for adults and one for children (the latter of the two which I still run after we were adopted by Writing East Midlands), passing on my love of words to other people and – I hope – encouraging them to find their own magic in writing. After I got a book deal – much to the surprise of my colleagues, who I’d more or less kept my writing a secret from, never daring to dream I might actually get anywhere with it – I had two book launches at two different libraries on the same day.
And it wasn’t just books. There were the people working their way through their family trees. People who came in to use the computers to do their work, type up CVs, look for jobs or simply keep in touch with far flung friends. People who needed information, who needed help, and it was us they came to – I hope that most of the time, we were able to give them what they needed.
This is why libraries matter to me. They are important to me on a personal level, but it goes wider than that, too. I know the difference libraries make to people because I’ve seen it – and I know what a difference they made to me.
We need to look after our libraries. They are truly a space for everyone, and they need to stay that way.
I just love that post! Emma Pass so clearly cares a lot about libraries, as we all should! Do you use your local library? Are you attending YAShot? Let me know down in the comments!