Why Libraries are About More Than Just Books

Mum and baby in library
Category: Bookbug

I recently asked one of our Bookbug Bag authors what he thought the best thing was about his local library. His response was simple, and perhaps obvious: books. Whilst no one can argue that a great selection of books is the foundation of a good library, my local library in Edinburgh came to mean so much more than the material that lined its shelves.

The library was the first public place I had the courage to venture to alone with my 6-week-old baby. I’d read about a drop-in group for new parents held in a communal room at the back of the library, and finally plucked up the courage to go along. The group couldn't have been more welcoming, and before too long I was meeting there with my ‘library mums’ every week.

The library staff happily let us while away the hours chatting in the children’s book section, never once asking us to keep quiet or move on

As our friendships grew, many of us stayed in the library long after the group had finished, swapping stories about the highs and lows of parenthood. The library staff happily let us while away the hours chatting in the children’s book section, never once asking us to keep quiet or move on. As our babies grew up into mobile toddlers, we were provided with toys and craft activities to entertain them should the novelty of books start to wane.

Before long, I was meeting friends at the library two or three times a week. We became regulars at the weekly Bookbug session, and despite my initial worries, it didn't matter one bit if my son slept through the start, finish or even the whole session - it was just a chance for us to relax and have some downtime away from the house. In fact, I got quite used to singing the songs and rhymes to other children (or myself) when my own child was sleeping!

And, of course, we loved the books. I spent many a rainy afternoon at the library, reading, re-reading and reading again whatever happened to be flavour of the month, or day. The library staff were always on hand to recommend a new children’s author, and even gather any children who were around for an impromptu story session.

The library was a place where everyone was equal. It didn’t matter where you lived, or how well behaved your children were, it felt safe and accessible to everyone.

The library was a place where everyone was equal. It didn’t matter where you lived, or how well behaved your children were, it felt safe and accessible to everyone.

We moved from Edinburgh when my eldest son was 3 years and my youngest was 18 months. Our first stop when we arrived in our new home in the Scottish Borders was the local library. My children are now both in school, but heading to the library each month to choose new books is still an important part of our lives. Perhaps we’ll make an extra special trip there on Saturday to celebrate National Libraries Day, and the role that the library has played in my own life over the last few years.