What writers and the public say;Open All Hours;TES Campaign;The TES libraries campaign

16th July 1999 at 01:00
David Almond, winner of the Carnegie Medal for his novel Skellig, speaking at the awards ceremony at the British Library last week, said: "It's a particular honour that this medal is awarded by librarians. It was a library that was crucial in turning me into a writer.

"It was a small, square, unspectacular place, a place of exploration and a discovery, a place where I could dream and grow.

"Nobody watched me as I wandered, nobody questioned me, nobody tried to record what was happening inside my head."

Dennis Godden, 65, is a retired Ministry of Defence engineer from Plymstock, Devon.

"Our library is a pleasant building on the high street. It's well-supported, well-used. The usual mixture of old 'uns and young 'uns. I recently had an eye collapse on me, so I've not been near it for a few months. I think it should have better information technology; it seems a bit old-fashioned, although they've got round to barcodes. They could make better use of computers and show us how to use them.

"When I was a youngster in London I used to do my homework in the local library with my twin brother. If someone coughed, everybody looked round. That's all changed.

"People need information. I'd like to see more exhibitions, but councillors want to save money on the rates, so nothing gets developed."

Susie Tingley is a pre-school assistant from Larkfield, near Maidstone in Kent. She has two children, aged 10 and 11.

"I use our library about twice a month mostly for educational purposes, not so much for fiction as I've pretty well exhausted the stock of those I like -Barbara Taylor Bradford, Stephen King, Jilly Cooper - I'd like a higher turnover of books as they get a bit stale.

"But it's great for research: projects on castles, local history, rivers - whatever gets thrown at them from school; one's at primary, the other at secondary. They like reading. At the moment they're heavily into Goosebumps and Point Horror."

Andrew Reid is a part-time teacher and a technical consultant. He lives near Brentwood in Essex.

"I use my library regularly, usually for reference, or trying out compact discs - I have a vast collection of CDs and a fairly eclectic taste. My job at the moment is designing things like climbing walls for outdoor centres.

"As that could involve accidents I have to refer to the law. And I need to refer to European Union regulations, the Certificate of European Normalisation which replaced the British Standards numbers. Using the library is better than having vast tracts littering my bookshelves.

"They're efficient - you just ring and the book's there a week later. I used to manage a climbing wall in Stoke Newington (north London) and the difference between libraries here and there is phenomenal. There it was just three books and a magazine. The attitude was: 'You want more?'"

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