Wednesday, 21 December 2011

A Thank You letter to my library

End of the year is usually a time for reflection on the year that has passed. An email from my much loved local library reminded me to renew my books yesterday. I logged in, hit 'renew' to get me through the holiday closure's... and then spotted the 'loan history' link. I'd never clicked on it before. I was surprised by the number of pages that came back. A history of my relationship with my library and a reminder of all the ways I'd used its services over the last year. This is my year in my local public library. 

Taken my five year old to the library to listen to someone else read a story book, complete with voices (I never get that bit right!), hand claps, songs and dancing around the children's library and a picture to take home and colour in. My five year old now attends school, but we miss Olly's Friday morning story time and now only attend during holiday sessions.

Spent a lot of time frolicking in the pirate ship in the central library. Which lead to the discovery of our favourite book. 'This is my book'. We love. We really do. We renewed it so many times we eventually bought a copy. It's a wonderfully clever and inspiring book. My five year old especially loved it because the word 'Book' is turned into the word 'poo'. I love it because it encouraged him to think about the sounds that letters make, and inspired him to do this whilst we were out and about...

From 'roof' to 'poof' to 'poo'. The joy of learning to read

I re-discovered Roald Dahl's 'The Giraffe, the Pelly and Me'. It's slowly led to an obsession. A devouring of Roald Dahl's books and tears at bedtime if we don't read another chapter from 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'. From the child not me. Well... mostly not me.

Attended a reading of 'Why be happy when you could be normal' with Jeanette Winterson. I bought a signed copy of 'Why be happy' along with a copy of 'Oranges are not the only fruit'. Fell in love with her writing all over again. Thank you, Bath Central Library.

Indulged in my little obsession with all things 'Queen' and borrowed 'Bang!', written by Brian May and Patrick Moore. Also borrowed books on psychology, astronomy, science, local history, philosophy and politics.

Found out more about diabetes, following a family member diagnosis. I helped them to manage a new diet by finding information and recipes to inspire a new way of eating.

Tracked down a member of the family that had been cut off by previous generations in the 70's.

Used the business library to conduct some research into the ethics of a company I was considering doing business with.

Helped my son with his homework. Read books on phonetics and learning to read. From the junior non-fiction section borrowed books on cats, transport, light sources and machines, local history, families and food.

Planned a trip to London. Borrowed a copy of a Time Out guide to things to do in London, a kids guide to London and a history guide to walking around London. I now have a child that is obsessed with going on the London eye, can point out the Gherkin, and chose to visit the Science Museum after reading about it. I'll admit he is still a little confused about Buckingham Palace. ("Does Freddie Mercury live there?")

Encouraged a friend to borrow 'Becoming Druscilla' and go to the author event at our local library after coming out as transgender.

Borrowed a book on DIY. Learned how to put up a curtain rail without crying. I need to borrow it again and figure out how to fix my bath panel...

Attended an exhibitions on local history in Bristol, performance poetry, history of the LGBT movement in Bristol, feminism and travellers.

Planned a trip to Croatia. Found a guide, learned more about the recent history of the country.

Found teaching packs and information on sign language and places where I can learn in person. I initially learned sign language over 10 years ago to level 1. Making new friends with a hearing impairment (and much better use of sign language!) made me realise I needed to brush up on some signs that were now a little woolly in my head. I couldn't afford to attend a course, but borrowing a book of signs was the next best thing.

Obtained information on local council services, things to do in my local area, groups, organisations, museums, theatre performances, local food markets, political organisations, charities, childcare organisations and community choir performances. Got involved.

Discovered the yummiest home-made cake and fair-trade chocolates for sale in the cafe.

Attended an LGBT book club. Met new people, discovered new books, and 'old' one's I probably should have read a long time ago and never got round to. Welcome to my world, Rubyfruit Jungle.

Used the computers to access the Internet. Kept in touch with friends and family who live abroad. I didn't own a computer for the first part of the year. It was painful. Now I have one. Yay! But my employer blocks access to most of the useful things and like most people, I spend far too much time at work. A hop across to the library at lunchtime means I can keep in contact, get things done and attempt to keep up.

Borrowed a LOT of books about adoption, attachment disorder, autism, child development, child psychology, alternative education for children with special needs, theraplay, therapies, nutrition and yoga for children with special needs.  Books I wouldn't have been able to afford to buy. Books about adoption are pretty expensive. Estimate I've borrowed over £200.00 worth of books alone on adoption this year.

For me, it feels like the library really does support me in all areas of my life. As a citizen. A home-owner. A cat-owner. A daughter. The mother of an adopted child. The mother of child with special needs. Just a plain old mother looking for inspiration. As someone who is looking for a new job. A student. A friend. A nerdy 'Queen' fan. A music lover with a limited budget. A fan of Murakami, Japanese literature, European literature and feminist writings, a traveller, a member of the queer community, and someone who is passionate about shopping locally and supporting local arts and initiatives. 

I'm geeky about libraries, it's true. It's not misguided devotion based on a rose-tinted view of libraries of old. It a firm belief that libraries - and librarians - still have unique place and a lot to offer the 21st century citizen. And I'm looking forward to seeing what my local library offers in 2012 - and beyond.

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