I'm a massive advocate of local libraries, so what better time than National Libraries Day to share some of the reasons why I think libraries (and librarians) rock.
1. Libraries make reading accessible to all
It doesn't matter if you're a child just starting out reading, a teenager who hates the classics and just wants to read something fun, an adult whose salary doesn't stretch to buying books or a pensioner who can't get out and about easily - libraries can bring books to all our lives. Libraries don't discriminate - rich, poor, old, young, male, female - everyone can borrow books from the library, and if you can't get to the library, there are often services available to allow books to be brought to you.
2. Libraries are an around-the-world trip, a time machine and much more, all in one room
Without the library there are many, many authors and worlds and times I would not have discovered. I'm not travelling the world anytime soon, or becoming the Doctor's next companion, but the library means I can go from immersing myself in a story set in modern-day Tahiti one day, to one set in Georgian Britain the next.
3. Librarians know stuff
Stuck on a research project for school, university or even work? Ask a librarian for help, and chances are they'll be able to find you the books or reference materials you need, whether that involves research papers, newspapers or something else. Librarians might not know everything, but they can help you find out about just about everything.
4. Libraries are a community hub
My library is full of books, obviously, but it's also a place for many other things. There are parent and toddler groups and craft clubs that meet there. The library displays work by local artists. My library has computers with internet access for people to use for free. The library can really bring people together.
5. Libraries get children reading
I can't stress how important this is. When I was younger my library used to hold a summer reading challenge every year (something which has recently been introduced nationwide), and the reading combined with getting to colour stuff in and win badges really instilled a love for reading in me. Libraries can introduce children to books suitable for them, and that they'll be interested in, and start them on a journey that will last a lifetime.
6. Libraries are about more than just books
My library also has DVDs and CDs for rent, and young people can play a variety of computer games while there. This may not sound like the core business of libraries, but getting people in the door is really important. The books just keep them there.
Let me know in the comments why you think libraries are great.