Today Crime Time is hosting Leigh Russell as part of her first UK blog tour celebrating the release of the sixth DI Geraldine Steel Mystery, Fatal Act, available now as ebook and in print 29th May. As she is participating on the No Exit Crime Panel at Harpenden Library this evening, we’ve invited Leigh to give us her thoughts on the importance of libraries.
Leigh’s blog tour continues tomorrow with Book, Biscuits and Tea – don’t miss out.
Leigh Russell on the Importance of Libraries
Where do I begin, when asked to write about the importance of libraries? As a child I used love visiting my local library. I still remember my excitement as I looked around, wanting to read every book I could see! My love of libraries began when I was a young reader, but more recently, I have discovered libraries from the perspective of an author.
In my debut novel, Cut Short, my detective Geraldine Steel works alongside Ian Peterson. Writing the second in the series, Road Closed, I gave Geraldine a new sergeant. It seemed like a good idea to explore a new character. About this time, I gave my first author talk to a reading group in my local library. Happening to mention that Ian Peterson had been written out of Road Closed, I was surprised when my audience chorused: ‘But we like Ian Peterson.’ Always happy to please, I reinstated Ian Peterson, little suspecting that he would one day feature in his very own spin-off series which launched last year with Cold Sacrifice. Libraries, for me, have shaped more than my love for books, they have become a home for readers, the very readers who have inspired me and helped shape the content of my novels.
But what about the future of libraries? They face too many threats to their survival, one of which is e-readers. Let me be clear: I am not against e-readers. Anything that encourages people to read has to be valuable. E-books are superior to physical books in many ways. They are invaluable for studying, allowing you to look up the meaning of any word, or research any information you come across, just by touching the screen. If someone had told me when I was young that I would one day be able to carry truckloads of books in my pocket, I would have considered that a wonderful prospect. It is.
So I am not against e-readers. I have the Kindle app and Apple iBooks on my iPad, and have even been known to read books on it! But e-books are not the same as physical books. The reason I say this takes me back to my childhood, when I stood in a library for the first time, gazing around in wonder, wanting to read every book I could see. Standing in a bookshop or a library, hundreds of books are visible within the scope of your vision. One turn of your head, and you see hundreds more. The experience of looking at a screen is not the same. There you are looking the few books someone else has placed in front of you. Yes, you have access to millions more, at the click a button. But you can’t see walls of books waiting to be pulled off the shelves. Will my grandchildren, or my great-grandchildren, experience the excitement I felt every time I walked into a library and longed to read every book I could see? I can only hope they will.
Libraries are incredibly important for our communities and I love doing anything I can to get involved with their fantastic work and to encourage people from all backgrounds to make use of them. My relationship with libraries continues. Tonight I will be in Harpenden along with fellow authors, Howard Linskey and Peter Murphy, for the No Exit Crime Evening where anyone and everyone can join us to discuss writing, crime fiction and more!
We will also be at Baldock Library on 6th May. Do come and join us at any of these events, and if you want to see more authors at your local library, just get in touch! With your help, we can help protect these wonderful places full of story and wonder for the future. Support your library!