In Praise Of Libraries

Oak And Mist final cover

So today something kind of cool happened. My daughter was using my phone and decided to Google Oak and Mist. She then became very excited.

‘Mummy, someone’s drawn your book!’

I had a look and, sure enough, it was my first piece of fan art. I can’t share it here as it’s not mine to share, but the artist, a teenage girl, had drawn her own representation of the sword image from the cover and written a short post to go along with it. On looking further, I could see it was done through a site designed by young people for young people and working in conjunction with area libraries – the idea was that readers 11-18 could post reviews and artwork about books they enjoyed, something that seemed to me to be a great initiative.

At a time in the UK where a recent BBC report uncovered increasing library closures, a drop in paid library jobs and an almost 100% rise in the number of library volunteers, it was nice thing to see evidence of libraries being used within their communities. In these days of free books and easy downloads, I suppose going to the local library and browsing the shelves might seem a bit old hat. However, free internet, e-book downloads, classes and book group initiatives such as the website described here are just some of the services offered by local libraries. As an independent author, I’ve also received a fair bit of support from area libraries, being invited to speak with reading groups on several occasions and having my very own book signing, as well as the pleasure of seeing my books available to borrow on their shelves.

The BBC report generated a fair amount of interest so I hope it’s been a wake-up call and that local libraries will start to thrive, rather than gradually fade away, as the services they offer to the community in terms of opportunities to learn and grow are, in my opinion, invaluable. After all, it’s a sad thing when a flagship library such as the one in Birmingham are so short of funds that they have to put out a call for people to donate books.

Today it was a thrill seeing my first piece of fan art, which wouldn’t have happened without the library supporting my work and making it available to borrow. So I left a comment saying how much I liked the image and the interpretation of my book. And I think next week it might be time to visit my local library again…