According to American politician and educational reformer Horace Mann, a house without books is like a room without windows. (The rest of that quotation makes me suspect that he would cry child abuse at any parent without books in the house.)
To the Roman politician Marcus Tullius Cicero, it was even more dire, comparing a book-less room to a body without a soul.
Not everyone is in the fortunate position of having books in every room, but I do agree with Mann: every house should have books. It’s no secret that I’m a bookish sort of a person; if I could, I would have bookshelves on every wall, and when I win the lottery, my house will have a proper library. I am very attached to my books. I have to really dislike a book to banish it from my collection.
Tomorrow is National Library Day. It’s supposed to encourage people to join their local libraries and support them against local council cuts. I agree, I haven’t heard of it before, either. But I think it’s a good idea.
For those who can’t afford new books, for those who haven’t the space to keep vast numbers of books, for those who simply like books, the local library is an excellent resource. It’s usually free to join, and you have access to the entire collection, and they can generally order in any specific book you want but which isn’t on their shelves. You can try out new authors without having to actually buy a book you’re not sure about. And being a member of the library gives you access to their online resources as well, including that wonder of wonders the OED Online.
Now I’ll admit, me trying to keep all the libraries open isn’t entirely altruistic. Don’t get me wrong, I think everyone needs such an access to books, but there’s something else. You see, I collect library cards. Wherever I live, I join the local library service. One day, I’d like to be able to create a map of the UK in library cards. But mostly, I just like having library cards.