When I was a kid we never went to the library. I suppose this should have struck me as strange because my Dad was an avid reader and we were very skint. He always said though, that libraries weren't for people like us.
I was never 100% certain what he meant by this, but assumed that the big concrete building in the middle of Pontefract must be filled to the rafters with posh folk. No doubt they would be thumbing through the complete works of Thomas Hardy while drinking tea from dainty china cups.
Not that I'd ever seen any posh folk in Pontefract, but maybe that was because they were all hanging out in the library, or The Conservative Club.
It was not until I went to uni and was prevailed upon to join that I finally stood in line and became a library member. The first thing I noted was how bloody easy it was and the second were the huge signs everywhere saying no food or drink was to be consumed on the library premises. Not even tiny cups of Earl Grey tea.
I was like the kid given the keys to the sweet shop and took out the maximum number on my first day, staggering under the weight of twenty hardbacks as I made my way back to halls.
I remember the sweet pleasure of putting up my DMs and reading everything from Kafka to Jackie Collins. To be fair I probably should have been spending more time reading law books, given that that was what I was there for, but we won't dwell on that.
Back at home that Christmas, I tackled my Dad on how wrong he'd been. 'Libraries are for everyone,' I told him. 'Take that working class chip off your shoulder and join.'
He was mumbling something about the proletariat and the means of production when my Mum took another swig of her snowball and told me to ignore him. My Dad it turns
out, had been a member of Pontefract library, but he'd forgotten to take back the books he'd borrowed and had consequently been barred. He was also barred from The Hope and Anchor, but that was about something else entirely.
Anyway, since then, I've been a massive fan and user of libraries. In fact I have written huge swathes of my books in libraries. One thing that never ceases to amaze me is how many services they offer. And one of my faves is the plethora of reading groups. A group of very different people from completely different backgrounds, coming together to discuss books - how cool is that. And they don't even have to buy the books!
For this reason, I always try to accept any invitations from libraries to come and speak to reading groups. Put an author together with readers and well...you can't have any more fun outside of a hotel room. So it's with great pleasure that I get to plug a readers day for my local library service; Bedforshire. They do a sterling job and I am delighted to have been asked to take part on 15th October 2011 from 10-4pm. The cost is £8 but it is a whole day of book filled fun and the price includes refreshments and lunch.
There will be many more authors there besides me...Anna Stothard, Morag Joss, Trilby Kent, Simon Brett and Sophie Hannah.
I really really can't wait.