This is cross-posted at The Season.
My father was laid off when I was 11. My mom had recently quit her job to train as a teacher.
Being a worrisome child, my first fear was that we’d lose our home. Mom reassured me that wouldn’t happen. My second fear was that I wouldn’t be able to buy books anymore. Mom said, “Honey, I’ll always buy you whatever books you want.”
I’m not sure whether she underestimated my voracious appetite for stories, or how long Dad would be unemployed, but we soon started frequenting the library instead of the bookstore.
The library in our town was tiny. It didn’t have much of a young adult section, and I was always worried I’d get yelled at if I spoke out loud. It wasn’t my favorite place to be, but it was my main connection to stories that helped me escape the toughest years of my life for a few hours at a time.
Over the last year, there’s been a lot of talk in the UK—as I know there has been in the U.S. and other countries—about saving public money by closing libraries. The arguments in favor of this seem beyond daft to me. How can you quantify all that we’d lose if we lost libraries?