Saturday February 6 is National Libraries Day, our annual chance for Libraries to show off some of the great work they do. In 2015 there were 265 million visits to public libraries, but government cuts mean these wonderful institutions are under threat, with opening hours slashed and increasingly reliant on volunteers who, useful as they are, aren’t going to be able to offer the help that properly trained and experienced staff can.
National Libraries Day now offers a wide range of events designed to show off areas of the Library’s work that people might have missed, or to bring in people who might not normally drop in. The website includes lots of events such as storytelling, story writing, poetry workshops, local history sessions, and events with a Harry Potter theme.
I’ve had a browse through the website and haven’t spotted any Shakespeare-related events, but perhaps everybody is saving themselves for April when the 2016 celebrations will reach their height. Maybe its due to the pressure of staffing cuts that the only event listed for central Birmingham including the city’s landmark building, the Library of Birmingham, is a special Saturday storytime in the childrens’ library.
In the Stratford-upon-Avon area no events are listed, though several Warwickshire libraries, including Warwick, are holding “Poetry Everywhere” sessions.
Seems to me that even if there aren’t any special events lined up, we should all go along to our public libraries, browse through some books and magazines, ask a question, consult a map, or borrow some books. These enjoyable pastimes also help to boost the statistics that give some indication of how much these resources are valued. I’m enormously fortunate in that I have several of my favourite libraries, including two specialised Shakespeare libraries, within walking distance of my front door. I’m going to be sauntering down to two of them and I encourage you to do the same. If you want to comment on the day, you can do so on Twitter using #librariesday