As a child I was brought up to visit my library regularly on a Saturday morning and to come out with brain food for the week whilst my mother shopped for real food at the local supermarket. In those days libraries were hallowed places of learning where you spoke in whispers in case you disturbed people who were reading or studying. Books were stamped out with a manual date stamp and a little ticket would be taken from a beige-coloured flap at the front of the book and filed away under your name in an index system. This made the librarian appear to be some sort of official - all that stamping with a satisfying 'thunk'! In my young mind then the librarian was a sort of friendly dictator with absolute control over the world of books.
No wonder then that top of my list of dream jobs as a nine-year-old was - librarian.
At home, we often used to play 'libraries' (yes, sad I know, what a geek) by making tickets and cards for all our books and pretending to be the lady at the counter. Quite a few of my childhood books have flaps stuck in the front so we could 'stamp' them using a stamp from my father's office.
As a writer whose publishing world is becoming increasingly digital, I mourn the loss of books from shelves and into devices, at the same time appreciating that this brings so many more books into the hands of so many more people. Think of remote villagers in the developing countries who are reading on their phones - fantastic!
But as a writer thinking of self-publishing, I recognise that without distribution the only way a POD book will probably get into my local library is if I take copies and donate them myself. This will give me no return and in fact cost me money - but I think of it as a payback, for all the years of reading pleasure that libraries have given me. And it would give me great pleasure to have my book on a real as well as a digital shelf. Shame that it will never have a stamp - red =overdue!