Wednesday, 23 October 2013


Sometimes even those of us who work in libraries need reminding how lucky we are. 

Last week the author Neil Gaiman gave the second annual Reading Agency Lecture  and in an impassioned speech he spoke of the increasing importance of literacy, the benefits of reading fiction, the need to encourage children to read for pleasure, and the vital role of libraries in ensuring  that all members of society have access to books. 

 Books are the way that we communicate with the dead. The way that we learn lessons from those who are no longer with us, that humanity has built on itself, progressed, made knowledge incremental rather than something that has to be relearned, over and over. There are tales that are older than most countries, tales that have long outlasted the cultures and the buildings in which they were first told.  - Neil Gaiman 

 The power of books to connect us to the vast store of human knowledge and to allow us a glimpse into the experience of others is something those of us who are literate and have access to books take for granted. It is hard to imagine how difficult it must be to negotiate an increasingly text based world without being able to read -  or how frustrating and disadvantaging not to be able to access the books you want or need. 

The Orkney Library and Archive are proud to be able to work in partnership with local groups  to make sure everyone has access to essential skills and information. The Learning Link    provide free and informal tutoring for literacy, numeracy and basic computer skills, and  local CitizensOnline  co-ordinator Janette Mackie, offers free training and support  through Get IT Together Orkney to local folk needing help to get online. 

Imagine a world without libraries - no don't actually, you'll give yourself nightmares:

We have an obligation to support libraries. To use libraries, to encourage others to use libraries, to protest the closure of libraries. If you do not value libraries then you do not value information or culture or wisdom. You are silencing the voices of the past and you are damaging the future. - Neil Gaiman

You can read an edited version of the lecture on The Guardian website, or watch a recording of the lecture on the Reading Agency's website to hear more of Neil Gaiman's inspiring words. 

We would like to thank him for reminding us that what we do is important, that we are lucky enough to be the facilitators of access to books for all.

So come to the library - borrow a book, use a computer, read the paper, look something up in the reference section - enjoy the freedom to explore the wonderful world of books, and all for free! 

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