Many of the Rhino Reads come from our local library. It isn’t huge but it is extremely loved, by the staff who are kind, knowledgeable and generous with their time, and by the community who use it. We have discovered many brilliant authors and illustrators and fallen in love with wonderful books at our library. Emily Gravett, Catherine Rayner, Cressida Cowell, Polly Dunbar, Mick Inkpen, Jane Cabrera, The Night Pirates, Rabbityness, Dogs Don’t Do Ballet to name a few favourites from the top of my head. We are incredibly lucky to live in an area (Peacehaven, East Sussex Council run) where our libraries are not being closed or cut. In fact we are getting two new ones in nearby towns! At a time when the worth of libraries is being heavily debated, I feel very privileged to be in this position.
We use our library a lot and we support it too. We donate books, we encourage others to visit and we arrange to meet, or take our friends there. And it gives us so much back. Our library is a place to go to read and explore books, to find new authors and illustrators, to print activity sheets to go with books we love, to shelter from the rain, to get out of the house on a glum day, to learn, to play.
And this is just what it gives us. It has so much more to offer the community, especially those in the most need. Families living in bed and breakfast who have no home to be in all day use the library as a warm, safe, entertaining place to be until their bed and breakfast or hostel opens again. People who are struggling to find work use the library for support and the computers for training. The elderly use the library as a place to socialise and modernise, learning how to use the Internet and discovering a wider world. School children play hard on the child safe computers and study hard in the homework area. Babies and toddlers sing and listen to stories while their carers swap nervous smiles and make new friends and support networks. And all this is for free. It is safe, warm, inviting, entertaining, educational, comforting, supportive and fun. For free.
There’s no wonder our library is never empty, never quiet and never dull. And long may it stay that way.
I hope the rainbow library can inspire a child, parent or carer to go to the real library and join in the fun. In fact, I think I’ll get some leaflets!