Good Reading : February 2010
my say In the tradition of Sebastian Faulks and Ian McEwan, The Listener is an unner ving yet gripping novel exploring the traumas of war and the complexity of the human psyche. Available now where all good books are sold. Paperback | $26.99 Anew year always seems to bring change. It is a time a lot of us reassess what we're doing in our lives and make changes to improve or re-invigorate ourselves. It's a time that often makes me wonder what the year will bring. How will the world change? And for us book lovers, how can we help keep books being read and encourage new generations of readers? One slice of the book world that has faced change for many years and, I feel, still has a long way to go, is our municipal libraries. I know the majority of you visit libraries. In fact most of you buy and bor row books to keep your habit fed. And you would have seen the changes that many libraries have made over the past 10 to 15 years. The libraries of decades ago, which were places of silence and strict rules, are mostly gone. But the image has been hard to shake. Perception and education will draw more readers and non-readers back. And libraries are working hard to be lively places where you can read just about anything (newspapers, magazines and of course books), meet friends to chat, surf the inter net, bor row a film or CD, attend an event (and not just book-related events) plus lots of other activities. Libraries are well past just being a storage area for books. They are a central hub for local communities. But as libraries work to evolve and to provide more and more services to their community it seems now, more than ever, they are at risk. Libraries are gover nment funded, and as they are not revenue generators, the number crunchers often eye them off when penny pinching is needed. The fight for funding, and with that, survival and relevance, is on. Without funding, libraries have difficulty promoting their services, so many of us don't even know about them. Libraries have a wealth of online infor mation they subscribe to on your behalf, including, in many cases, Good Reading. But libraries don't have big marketing budgets, and infor mation can be tricky to find. Did you know that some libraries have forsaken the Dewey Decimal System and organised the books on their shelves like a bookshop, in categories, so it's easier for you to browse for a book? What a great idea. And why shouldn't libraries sell books as well? And why not include cafés? They could screen films, provide conference rooms for business meetings. The more services they provide means more people coming to the library, the more people who see and read books. Our local libraries need our support. I'm starting by writing to Minister Peter Gar rett, asking him to revisit his local library and think about supporting a national strategy to help increase the community use and funding of libraries. I'd love to hear from readers on how you use your library and your ideas on what would bring people back to your library. I would also love to hear from librarians with your ideas and information on what's happening at your library. How can we, as good readers, help you?
December January 2010