Geeks Vs Loneliness: libraries

A few words on libraries, and how they can help at a lonely time...

Hello and welcome to Geeks Vs Loneliness, our spot on the site where we try and chat about things that may be affecting you, or people around you. Not every article we write will be helpful to every person, but our aim remains that something in the series will hopefully resonate.

This week, we want to talk about libraries. Because a) thank the lord they exist, and b) they can be and are amazing retreats. They can be places to escape to outside of the confines of your home, where there are other people who you can talk to on a take it or leave it basis.

As author Matt Haig noted on Twitter recently too, libraries are are one of the few places you can go, sit down and while away a few hours, without the expectation that you have to spend money. Even for those of us with the talent of making a £2 cup of coffee last hours, that’s something to cherish.

But it’s more than that.

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Appreciating that libraries seem to be the first thing to be cut when a few quid needs to be saved, they’re hives of togetherness. At their purest, every library contains hundreds of thousands of hours of entertainment via the books on their shelves. But also, go and have a peek at the noticeboard. My local library – Halesowen, in the West Midlands – has an abundance of clubs and community events that it sits at the heart of. These events are wonderful for breaking through loneliness, too. They’re opportunities to come together with like-minded people, or people who share an interest. By the fact they exist, they break half of the ice of a new encounter. There’s nothing the library can directly do about the anxiety for many of us that comes with trying something new, or breaking out of a routine. But still: your local library is treasure chest of ideas and resources, whether you’re lonely or at a loose end. The worst you’re ever going to get at your local library is space to sit and read a book for a bit. At best? Well, let’s leave it at dramatic life-changing moments that might not be contained to the pages of said books!

Libraries are, of course, the kind of resources and retreats that our legislative overlords may only fully appreciate once they’ve gone. And our eternal thanks go to the army of brilliant staff and volunteers who freely give their time because they believe in what a library is, and can do (nobody gets financially rich working for a library!). Communities with libraries are richer communities, and on a bad day – well, assuming it’s not a Sunday – their doors are likely to be open.

Long may they exist.

Thanks, as always, for reading.