NEIL Hamilton, UKIP Leader in Wales and AM for Mid & West Wales, is urging his constituents to celebrate the contribution libraries make to daily life.
Mr Hamilton, Party Spokesman for Culture, is supporting this year’s Libraries Week in Wales, which runs from Monday October 8 – Saturday October 13.
This year, the focus will be on wellbeing, and libraries across the country will showcase how they bring communities together, combat loneliness, provide a space for reading and creativity and support people with their mental health.
Mr Hamilton said:
“Libraries today offer so much more than just lending books. This week long event aims to showcase all the creative, innovative and diverse activities which are available, not just in public libraries but also in schools, workplaces and universities.
“I have been passionate about books, especially second hand and antiquarian books, since childhood and firmly believe they can never be superseded by the internet or kindle. The feel, the smell, the joy of physical contact with the binding, the paper and the written word is irreplaceable.
“Libraries still have a hugely important role to play, particularly in rural communities, and they offer a wide range of activities and services – so much more than just access to books. They are a treasure trove of information.
“Libraries are often the hub of a community, a place to meet and mingle as well as giving people access to computers, Wi-Fi, help with finding a job, or starting a business.
“As the figures show, they also contribute to wellbeing and I am delighted to be able to support such a worthwhile campaign.”
Libraries support a range of agendas including increasing reading and literacy, improving digital access, greater prosperity by supporting entrepreneurs and people seeking work.
They also support lifelong learning, provide cultural and creative experiences and support research and innovation, which all promote a greater sense of wellbeing.
In Wales, during the past year, over 10.7 million books were borrowed from public libraries.
51% of us have a current library card and 47% have used a public library in the last twelve months. Three out of four people in the UK and Ireland say that libraries are important or essential to their community
Research shows that library use is positively associated with subjective wellbeing, with library users having higher life satisfaction, higher happiness and a higher sense of purpose in life compared to non-users.
Being a regular library user is also associated with a 1.4 per cent increase in the likelihood of reporting good general health, valued at a medical cost saving associated with library engagement at £1.32 per person per year.