Public libraries provide a wide variety of benefits to communities not least through their rare combination of free indoor public space and open access to information available to all people. Despite this, public libraries must frequently defend their worth.
The Story They Tell is a crowdsourced library of visuals in support of public libraries. We are looking for your help in highlighting public libraries’ continued relevance – drawing on the past and present for inspiration. Together, we can help support their future.
WHY WE NEED TO SUPPORT PUBLIC LIBRARIES
Public libraries support our communities in a variety of ways, improving our social, educational, economic and cultural wellbeing. They provide free and open access to all kinds of information to all people and are one of the very few indoor spaces where everyone is welcome and there is no entrance fee. You can go in and use the resources, you can go in and better yourself or you can simply go in and just be you.
A frequently overlooked piece of social infrastructure, public libraries are a shared physical environment that encourages social interaction whether people are aware of it or not. This can help reduce problems including social isolation, crime, polarization, and climate change whilst improving levels of education, employment and health.
Despite this, public libraries must frequently defend their worth & over the last ten years almost one thousand public libraries have closed in the UK, spending has dropped along with the amount of trained staff employed. Given that we pay council tax for a comprehensive and efficient library service for all people, it is a worrying picture.
WHAT IS THE STORY THEY TELL
The Story They Tell is a crowdsourced visual library aiming to inform and enhance the perception of public libraries in the UK. Sharing stories is a powerful act and by telling our stories of public libraries, we can document and preserve the wider story that they tell.
We welcome contributions from everyone and aim to show the diverse roles public libraries play in our lives and communities. We are under no illusion that a poster alone will save public libraries. Yet together, we can build an open-source gallery of posters that speak to the power of public libraries, demonstrating their continued relevance.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Above all, we would like you to visit your local public library and tell other people about it!
Use the map on the Find your library page to find your nearest service.
We would also love you to participate in The Story They Tell. Explore the gallery - share, email and download the posters to show your support of public libraries, maybe use them in your library or protest, or maybe email one to your local councillor or MP to ask them about public library funding.
Your contributions to the gallery are more than welcome - if you would prefer not to design a poster, why not use our template and write your story about public libraries. The gallery will be continually updated, evolving alongside public libraries and as it grows, so will the strength in its intention to serve as ongoing proof of the importance of public libraries.