Don't under-estimate the impact of libraries, whatever shape or size they come in! And the writer Debbie Young, is not only a writer but a social and community entrepreneur of all things books, reading and writing. Impressive!
Upwardly Mobile - Debbie Young
Every other Tuesday, halfway through my shift in the village shop, I’d watch the white mobile library bus trundle past on its way to park by the village school. On its return trip 20 minutes later, the lady driver would wave cheerfully to me. In our narrow lane, the giant books painted on the side of the van almost touched the shop window, making me feel the size of a Borrower, which was ironic, because I’d never borrowed any of its books.
Then, at the start of October, my hours at the shop were cut. Our takings had been falling since the new superstore popped up a few miles away. After that, I was always at home on Tuesdays, alone in my cottage opposite the school. I’d watch the library van park outside my house.
As soon as its doors swung open, school children bearing books would bound up its steps. Older folk followed more slowly, cautiously gripping the handrail with their book-free hand. When they emerged, one by one, they’d all be smiling, large print books a common bond between the very old and very young.
As the days shortened, I grew weary of daytime television. I wished I could afford more bus trips into town or to anywhere that would make my life less dull. Then last Tuesday afternoon I finally found my courage. Once its regular visitors had dispersed, I slowly mounted the mobile library’s steps.
“Can I help you, dear?” asked the lady driver, now standing behind the counter. It seemed odd to hear her voice at last.
“I don’t know,” I faltered. “You see, I’m not much of a reader.”
When she ducked behind the counter, I thought it was to hide her scorn, but she popped up again with a library card application form and a pen.
“Ooh, everyone’s a reader, dear!”she exclaimed kindly. “You just haven’t found the right books yet. We’ve got something here for everyone. I’ll help you choose.”
But that’s all I have time to tell you now, because I want to get back to my book.
Debbie Young is an author (her latest book is the flash fiction collection Quick Change), journalist, blogger and book reviewer. She is also commissioning editor for the Alliance of Independent Authors’ Self-Publishing Advice blog and a book promotion consultant.