I have been a huge fan of the writer, Neil Gaiman, ever since I read Neverwhere back in the mid- to late-90s while I was in high school. In recent years, there seems to be more attention and discussion about why libraries are still a necessary part of a community and Mr. Gaiman has been a great vocal advocate for libraries, which makes me love him even more.
Thanks to Twitter I came across a wonderful article in the guardian featuring an edited version of Neil Gaiman’s lecture for the Reading Agency, delivered on Monday, October 14 at the Barbican in London. Some of my favorite excerpts:
“I was in China in 2007, at the first party-approved science fiction and fantasy convention in Chinese history. And at one point I took a top official aside and asked him Why? SF had been disapproved of for a long time. What had changed?
It’s simple, he told me. The Chinese were brilliant at making things if other people brought them the plans. But they did not innovate and they did not invent. They did not imagine. So they sent a delegation to the US, to Apple, to Microsoft, to Google, and they asked the people there who were inventing the future about themselves. And they found that all of them had read science fiction when they were boys or girls.”
I devoured science fiction and fantasy novels as a child such as those written by Piers Anthony, David Eddings, and Anne McCaffrey. (If you’re interested in specific series or title recommendations let me know.) If it wasn’t for my local library (and my parents’ willingness to drive me almost on a weekly basis) I would not have had the pleasure of reading these authors’ works.
Mr. Gaiman goes on to eloquently state that
“… libraries are about freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication. They are about education (which is not a process that finishes the day we leave school or university), about entertainment, about making safe spaces, and about access to information.”
As a child, libraries were my haven to access books that transported me to far-off places and activated my imagination. I still visit my local library almost on a weekly basis to read the newest novel, borrow books about artists, or learn about what’s involved in starting up your own craft business. If not for libraries I would not be the person I am today and I continue to grow as a person thanks to my local library.