Save Libraries: Zadie Smith at Kensal Rise

March 31, 2011 at 10:58 am 2 comments

Award-winning and bestselling English novelist Zadie Smith — author of White Teeth, On Beauty, and Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays — recently spoke at Kensal Rise library in the Greater London area about the importance of libraries. Not only did they lead to her becoming a writer, but they also helped to make her more informed and open about the world, and in the end a better person.

photo courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd

She spoke of discovering literature and learning as a teenager through exploring her local branch. Of the opportunities her library gave her – and of the opportunities that similarly stretched but dedicated branches continue to give to children across the country – children who otherwise would have no access to that world.

Looking back at the life-changing impact libraries had on her teenage self, she said, bought home to her what ahorribly misconceived, short-sighted and disastrous policy it is for local authorities to close their libraries.

So beloved were libraries in her impoverished household, she recalled that she and her brothers used to play games in which soft toys were forced to take out books from pretend libraries and stuffed pandas were lectured about late fees.

“It’s all very well replacing local libraries with enormous libraries – but for those families for whom getting on a train to visit the British Library is inconceivable, having a local branch 100 yards from your front door can change your life.”

Read the account of her talk at The Guardian, and listen to her full speech at BBC Radio 4.


Entry filed under: Public Libraries.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Who Gives a Damn About Libraries? - Harrumph!  |  April 17, 2011 at 5:30 am

    […] the point, about two weeks ago, an acclaimed young English author, Zadie Smith, made an emotional appeal, with intellectual undertones, on BBC 4, calling for maintaining local public libraries even with […]

    • 2. Kwek Zheng Hua  |  May 13, 2011 at 1:19 am

      I agree that libraries are important. They have a huge collection of books, which means that you will be able to find books for research, evaluation, or just pure reading pleasure. It is also a conductive place to study, given that the atmosphere in the library is peaceful and quiet.


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