“Libraries are our friends.” ― Neil Gaiman
Staring face to face with that paragon of materialism and retail therapy that is Milton Keynes Shopping Centre stands Milton Keynes library. An ark for all ages and backgrounds. Maybe it’s the last bastion of democracy left in our town. Anyone can use it regardless of status, giving us all equal chances to learn and enjoy the space it creates.
When I first came to Milton Keynes over 30 years ago, I was just in awe of the building itself. I had never been in such a huge library. I still think it looks like a huge elephant! Here is the red balloon advert that I was in from this time!
Still today the Boyd and Evans painting reminds me of coming to Milton Keynes when it felt like a high tech shiny new country. My children enjoy looking at the painting too.
As teenager I loved to cycle on the redways to and from the library. It was my first taste of independence and freedom. I loved freewheeling at top speed down a huge hill on the way home, looking forward to reading my library books when I got in.
I worked my way through whole series of books, progressing from the children’s to the adult library. It helped me find material for my GCSE coursework (the microfiche machine!). It was a sanctuary for studying during my A levels.
Over the years it has been many things to me. A place to take my class of pupils. A welcome refuge with a baby. A source of fun for toddlers. A place to take the kids for holiday activities. I’ve listened to authors. The kids have spent hours playing on the computers. I have tutored pupils there. And now as an aspiring children’s author it is where I conduct my research into children’s literature.
My kids love to borrow CDs and DVDs as well as the books. You are allowed to take out 15 items! I think I have been there once a week for the past 12 years. As a result my kids are all confident, enthusiastic readers and doing well at school. I am thankful that it is always busy, as I hope that will ensure its future. And of course there are other smaller libraries too in the Milton Keynes area in places like Newport Pagnell and Bletchley, which are full of character.
So for me the library is a symbol of aspiration, education and equality. I hope it outlives us all!
Long live our libraries!