Today’s blog post is not by a writer. It is by someone much more important: a reader.
The reader is a lady named Shamila Akhtar, who has started a petition to keep her local library - Pleck Library in Walsall - open. I quote from the Pleck residents’ group website: ‘Pleck is recognised as the most deprived area in the borough of Walsall.’ Walsall itself is in the West Midlands, my home region and one of the areas hardest hit by spending cuts. If a library is needed anywhere, surely it is needed here.
I am proud to introduce Shamila as a guest blogger:
- Leila Rasheed
WHAT MY LIBRARY MEANS TO ME
by Shamila Akhtar
by Shamila Akhtar
Everyone's talking about why their library should stay open. It's such a turmoil of emotion, every single library is special to the people who use it. In Walsall, 6 of 16 libraries will close. It's awful - I feel like the small libraries are competing against each other to survive. Like we’re in a slaughter house and all jostling to stay at the back and not get picked. What a sad situation!! Every single library should be left alone.
What is it about that these buildings and the resources within that's turning people like me into campaigners? I'm a person who is not the politician, the local councillor or even the vicar who posed for our Press Event photo. I am a little shy, timid in approaching the writing elite to ask for their support. How will I come across? What will I say?
Perhaps I can share some of the magic moments the library creates, delivers, facilitates.
I have seen a father sitting there on a tiny chair reading to his boy, speaking not so well English but he was there and he was trying. His son gets his undivided attention, they get special time together.
I have turned the final page of a book we borrowed from there, to have a crocodile pop up. The boys want me to make him snap at their fingers, we protect the book so baby does not damage the pop up.
Summer holiday activities: the library is totally packed and the children's entertainer has brought a play parachute. The children are thrilled and their hair goes crazy with the static. The animal man places a cockroach on a little boy’s nose and the snake does the usual mishap. The Librarian brings out biscuits and juice. Now that is a magic moment for the kids.
It is the librarian’s birthday; my 3 year old makes her a card. As she turns the card over there is some of his dinner glued to it, and we all have a giggle. He tries to trick her, saying it's a glittery glue and she gives him some cake and a hug.
An elderly man walks into the library, he shakes hands with a friend, picks up a news paper and settles down on the next armchair to read. He could have read a paper at home but he came here, he and his friend read their own papers together. Will the council look close enough to see what I see?
In my childhood my father would often take me to this same library. Though he could not read well himself he knew this was a place from which his children could learn. We all have those things that throw us back to a moment in the past: a smell, a food. We all should have a book that does that too. For me that book is Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. The moment I see the cover I can feel exactly how I felt as a child, enchanted.
It will be criminal to end the opportunity for moments like this to take place.
It really is a wonderful place. This is one perspective, how many more are there? We want to save this library for our children, our elderly, the PC students, Chess Club, the Baby Group, the Homework Club and so many more users.
I am campaigning for my little boys and all the children; for all the times they sat in their carer’s lap, forall the times they felt close because a book needed them to be close, for all the times a book made them laugh, for all the times a reader could not wait to find out what happens next, for all the times a lonely person spoke their first words of the day to a librarian, for all the friends made there and for so much more - for the library and everything it gives.
By Shamila: A mum trying to save something her children love and NEEDhttp://www.pleckresidentsgroup.co.uk/#