A quick word from me…

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If you’re trying to write (or do anything else difficult), you might like to hear my collected wisdom from the A Place in Words project. There’s only a few minutes of it – I think they pretty much got the lot.

https://www.aplaceinwords.com/listen/

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Why We Need To Fund Libraries 2/3

Social media networking can lead to careers

(This post has been rewritten after an earlier version was mistakenly deleted.)

A common excuse for not funding libraries is, ‘We don’t need them anymore. We have the internet now.’

We do have the internet now – my parents nearly went broke buying me a spanking set of Encyclopaedia Britannica, but during her primary education, my daughter used the wifi instead. The problem with getting your information from a general search engine comes when you need to be sure of the information you get and it needs to be more extensive than a three line entry.

There’s an awful lot of information on the internet and, as we all know, not all of it is useful…or even true. Aliens, I hate to break it to you, did not kill JFK.

Another name for Librarians is Information Scientists. That’s what their special post-graduate degree is in, Information Science. In our generation, we have a great deal MORE information that needs to be managed. So why would we assume that we need FEWER people to manage it? 

Some information (broadsheet newspapers, peer-reviewed academic journals, e-books) are only available behind a paywall. This is the kind of information you want a secondary school learner to read for extension work. It’s beyond the ability of most households to subsidise access to enough paywalls for one child, let alone two or or three. However, it’s not just the kids who will sometimes need top-quality, curated information. When you’re making a decision about your future; about a career choice or a business deal or a possible house move or a medical question, you might want some, as well.

Librarians are trained to evaluate, store and discard information – and that means digital information, too. Through your library, you can often access online information that would ordinarily not be freely available. And through a librarian, you will be able to identify the latest and best information on any topic – instead of making an important decision on the basis of what your sister in law’s neighbour saw on Facebook.

And don’t even get me started on the difference between reading on an electronic device and reading a book. I do both, of course, like most avid readers. But a recent study proved that children get more enjoyment from reading paper books . That might be because they learn better from the paper version. Buying a load of paper books is expensive and they’re hard to store (I could show you pictures of my house). They get dusty (achoo!) and… But at a library, you can just borrow them and hand them back again. You get online resources and paper resources at a library, so you can decide what’s best for you and your family.

We’ve got the internet now, I know. Which is why we need properly funded libraries and librarians even more. 

 

 

Long Time Gone

Photo on 2013-04-04 at 12.15 #2

 

I balance my literary life with my other commitments. Of those ‘other commitments’, the largest are work and family. I’ve been away because of family.

In three months, both of my in-laws have died. My husband is an only child – and so I’ve been helping with…with all the stuff that you have to do when someone dies. In a way, there’s a lot of it and it takes forever. And in a way: Poof! It’s all gone.

Death. We don’t talk much about it anymore. When I was a kid in 1960s America, we lived closer to death than we do now. Coffins were open, old people stayed in their families and their neighbourhoods. You saw people decay…you saw the inevitability of what happens. An attractive woman would become ill, age rapidly and still do her shopping and water her flowers and then you’d see her stagger in her garden and then it was her funeral. I remember being led up to open coffins and peeping over the edge, disappointed by how undramatic it was, how normal the deceased looked.

I’m writing about my own death again. When I was 14, I died in a car accident. Of course, I came back! I wrote a memoir about my injury and recovery. Now a publisher wants me to fictionalise it, for a larger readership. It was hard to write and it’s still hard to write…I feel like death is all around me right now, like I can hear a long scythe being sharpened just behind my left shoulder.

Being conscious of our own impending death is, some people say, the main defining characteristic of the human. It is the root of all our neuroses and also of our altruism.

It’s also a great motivator. I’ve got four books on the go at once and I really need to finish some of them, get them out, get them published and let them go. I have other ideas. I have other things to do. And I’m not getting any younger –  none of us are. So I’m starting to wake up just that little bit earlier and work just that little bit longer. As my Irish grandmother used to say, ‘There’s plenty of time to rest when you’re dead.’