At my school, I am a student librarian, and I experience first-hand how people my age no longer want to go to libraries. The reality nowadays is that technology provides ways to access hundreds of books on a tablet smaller than a single book, but you lose that lucky moment when you stumble across a book which you were not looking for, but you subsequently come to love. 

In my opinion, libraries have so much more to offer than just a plethora of stacked shelves crammed with hundreds of genres of books. Libraries can also bring people together as they are accessible to all, whether you are a novice reader or a literary scholar, there is a place for you. Many people feel that libraries are very calming places, like a sanctuary even, a tranquil place away from the bustle of everyday life. My local library has created many different communities due to the activities it runs regularly for local people. For example, adults can participate in literacy support schemes, book clubs, art clubs, guest speakers and support with computer literacy. I remember as a young child enjoying the children’s section of the library which is light and airy with vivid stained-glass windows and bright, soft furniture to encourage young visitors to enjoy the space and books. There are regular story time sessions, craft activities and reading challenges for children to get involved in-all supported by knowledgeable and friendly staff. 

Not only do our libraries provide a wonderful space and activities for the local community, but research shows that libraries do have a positive effect on well-being, and also have an economic value. According to a study by Dr David Lewis from the University of Sussex, reading regularly has been proven to reduce stress levels by up to 68%, so libraries play an important part in perhaps reducing the need for people to turn to medical intervention for stress. Furthermore, has found information from the University of East Anglia that groups such as the “Knit and Natter” group in Clacton has generated over £30,000 of value by reducing the impact of loneliness on the NHS. At a time when the government is looking for ways to remodel the NHS and think about the funding of the service, it might be useful to consider investing more in libraries if they are able to provide services which support well-being.

Libraries do matter for individuals and communities. As T.S. Eliot said, “The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man.”- I couldn’t agree more!