I remember my first library card. I remember the excitement of the trips to the library, of choosing the four books I’d take back home. The habit of exploration has stayed with me. It was founded on the confidence that all those books on all those shelves belonged to me, were mine for the taking. If I was interested enough in any object in this large room, the librarian would stamp it and I would carry it out. That sense of entitlement was the foundation of everything I’ve done since in my life. I felt knowledge belonged to me (at least potentially), and have carried on exploring libraries ever since. I’m now a professional writer, and have access to great research libraries and archives, as well as the money to buy books. It’s a long time since I’ve borrowed a book from a local library. But I know that a public library is not the same as a book shop. It’s also not the same as the internet. The child choosing a book that, for a short time, will belong to him, is learning that knowledge is his, if he wants it. He’s learning that it’s a right. Libraries set people free. They’re not a luxury. They’re not a relic. We must fight to save them.
[This is a statement in support of Voices for the Library, who are campaigning to stop the closure of up to half of the UK's public libraries, as a result of the government's austerity measures.]