In Scotland, like many other countries, libraries have seen devastating cuts to budgets with libraries closing at an unprecedented rate. CILIPS, the Scottish libraries and Information Professionals have launched a Libraries Matter Campaign. I have been a strong supporter of this campaign and I would like to take this opportunity to tell you why.
I was signed up to a library card at the age of 3. Not unusual today, but unheard of then. As an advanced reader I soon worked my way through the entire children's section of my local library. By the age of 10 I was the proud owner of an adult library card. Thus began my love affair with books. Yes, I received books as gifts and there were always books in the house, but not at the rate I read them. A voracious reader, I could read two books a day. I had some spirited discussions with librarians who said I hadn't read my book and couldn't return it the same day. I had to prove them wrong by telling them the plot.
I joined the Royal Navy and then the Army as a nurse. This took me all over the world. The first thing I did when arriving at a new posting, was find the library. Postings abroad made it difficult for me to get books in English, but the library was always there like a comfort blanket. I started my career at Royal naval Hospital Haslar in Gosport. This becomes important later in my story.
On leaving the services, I worked in academia for many years, leading to publication in academic textbooks and journals. This led to a whole new career as a crime writer, and I am now a full time author. This would not be possible without libraries fuelling my passion for reading. I have five books in the DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries and one book in the Fergus and Flora Mysteries. A new series, Cass Claymore Investigates, is also underway.
Back to that posting to Gosport. I signed up to Gosport Library as an 18 year old. My books are now available to borrow in that library. It is an honour and a privilege to be in that situation.
The picture is me with my books in my local library. I have been borrowing books for 53 years. The gentleman with me, a crime reader, has been borrowing books for 80 years. So together we have clocked up 133 years of library borrowing. That is why I believe Libraries Matter. That is why I am fighting to keep libraries open. Don't let your libraries close, they're important on many levels.
You can find out more about CILIPS campaign on their website