A timely reminder of the importance of libraries and reading. Timely because of the ever present threat of cuts. I have to say I have mixed feelings about plans here in Ireland to operate some libraries and/or some opening hours, ‘staffless’. It is potentially a good thing if it increases the accessibility of the library to readers. Not so good if it means staff cuts so that the help that can only be provided by a passionate librarian is no longer available.
Why read? English author Neil Gaiman (born 1960) gave good reasons in a lecture he delivered at the Reading Agency, a UK charity, in 2013. It is available in print in his collection of selected non-fiction The View from the Cheap Seats that was released earlier this year.
In the talk titled “Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading and Daydreaming”, Gaiman mentions two big uses of fiction. First is drive – which gives us a sense of purpose, second empathy – which helps build groups. Gaiman explains:
Firstly, it’s [fiction] a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if it’s hard, because someone’s in trouble and you have to know how it’s all going to end…that’s a very real drive. And it forces…
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