The Library of my Childhood: Still going strong and more important than ever!

 

Clonmel Public Library

It’s been a long semester and with only 6 weeks to go I can’t fathom how I have gotten this far already. I’m on mid-term and I’m exhausted. I’m home in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary for a few days trying to get some work done and I thought it would be a good idea to visit the library where it all began. I was worried that I was going to be saddened to see the library in a poorer state than I remember it or to see it empty of people because everyone is at home on their computers. However, I’m extremely happy to report that the library was busier than I can ever remember seeing it and this was during the day while the children were in school. It was a hive of activity and full of colour. I have such fond memories of the children’s area and it is as vibrant as ever, now equipped with computers at lower tables. There were quite a few older members of the community seated in the comfortable sitting area at the back reading their books and newspapers and there were plenty of people using the computers. It was clear to me that the library is still an essential part of the community. Probably even more so now; people who may be unemployed etc. need computers to access job postings, to apply online, to check their benefits and supports on various websites, older people who may not have computers in their homes need to access banking, bills and other services online. Having access to the computer and library employees to turn to for help is probably vital for some people.

I’ve noticed they’ve recently done up their website too. I may be mistaken but I think its a WordPress template site that they’re using and I think they’ve done a really good job on it. It just goes to show that you can do a lot with a little money and a bit of effort. Having this kind of site also means it should be easier for staff who may not be trained in coding to keep the site updated and fresh.

They seem to have a wide range of services available for all age groups. Although, it does seem that the teenagers aren’t as involved with the library as other groups with services for this age-group mainly internet based. There was plenty for children of all ages, from picture books to story-time and reading groups and the computers as I have mentioned. They offer services for parents and elderly members and it seemed very warm and inviting.

I’m delighted to see my old library still going strong and helping members of the community.

As part of my module Information Professional as Educator I have to design an information literacy programme and I’m hoping to create one for Transition Year students to teach them about subject choices for Leaving Cert and preparation for college. I think a programme like this might be beneficial for public libraries to outreach to the teenage group that may be missing out on the library experience. I truly believe that learning about the digital world, information retrieval and information evaluation is so important for that age-group and unfortunately it doesn’t seem to have a place in their education. But….that’s a post for another day.

Nothing like a bit of nostalgia to inspire and it most certainly worked for me. Libraries are still important, useful, and more than anything, they are exactly where I want to be and what I’m about. Information, learning and support!

Why I Love Libraries…..

Ok well, I’ve been working on my site and doing so much work for my course that I thought now would be a nice time to take a quick step back and reflect a little on my love of libraries.

There is a public library at home in Clonmel, Co Tipperary that embodies my entire childhood. I loved that place! I have loved books ever since I learned how to read, and that was probably before I could even talk properly. When I discovered that there was a building full of books that you could borrow, read and return in exchange for more books, well, it was like all my Christmases had come all at once. My memories of being a school-kid involve getting home from school and going to see my grand-parents and being brought to the library. The children’s section was right at the front, everything was in bright colours and the room smelt like books. (If you’re an avid book lover, you’ll understand!) I read as much as I could, my parents would find me with a torch under the covers when it was supposed to be lights out. I think I read every Roald Dahl book in the library, including short stories and the adult ones before I was 12. In fact, I think it was around that age that the librarians, who knew me very well, rang my parents to ask if I could have an adult card to take more, and much longer, books home.

In secondary school, we moved away from the town. I rarely went to the library; preferring instead to make do with the Christmas presents and trips to the book-store. I regret this now because when I went to college I was slightly scared or intimidated by the library. However, once I discovered the Boole Library, the love affair started all over again. Not only was I able to find books, and plenty of them, there was so much more to the library than I could have dreamed. In secondary school you are taught, I don’t believe learning things off to pass a test is really learning. I did very well at school but by the time I had gotten to Leaving Cert I was bored to tears. College and the library was like a complete parallel universe where I could learn and read and discover for myself.

I love libraries because they give us this amazing opportunity to discover what it is you need. Libraries are capable of showing you the world and everything in it. Librarians are like the tour guides (or at least they should be.) They should direct you where to go on the journey, keep everything in order to make it easier to navigate and be close by in case you get lost. With the Web and so much more technology there’s even more to discover and hopefully the library will remain the place of discovery. As a future librarian I am going to strive to make sure that wherever I end up is a place that helps and supports learning and guides people on their journey to whatever information it may be that they are searching for.