One of the glories of our cultural heritage, Britain's libraries face an uncertain future. Many are threatened with closure, others seem more interested in yoga and coffee. Rachel Cooke argues we should fight to keep reading at the heart of our culture.
Award winning journalist Rachel Cooke (pic above)writing in The Observer, Sunday 22 March 2009, has a message for all book lovers.
And then there's this place which, for me, is in another league altogether when it comes to instant nostalgia: Broomhill Library, Sheffield, outside which I am standing, in the rain. I gaze at it across the street and, as if by magic, I ache with longing, just as I used to in the days when a trip here was the most enjoyable thing I could possibly imagine: when books were all I wanted, when I thought of them as pieces of ripe fruit, waiting to be peeled and devoured. I have never given up being grateful for the fact that, when I became a reader, so many of these juicy things were so readily available.
Those writers! How their lovely, elegant names still trip off the tongue... Leon Garfield, Nina Bawden, Diana Wynne Jones, Alan Garner, Rosemary Sutcliff. And when you felt like slumming it, well, even the easy reads were ace. For me, slumming it meant horses (obviously… I lived in Sheffield; I'd never actually ridden one).