Friday, 3 May 2019

The Library: An oasis for me and my daughter

As the parent of a child with special educational needs (SEN), libraries have proved to be my salvation over the years. I know where they all are throughout London, from the local library in Lewisham, Charing Cross library in the heart of the city, the Saison Poetry Library and onto the British Library. In a large, busy and sometimes frightening city, they are oases of calm where my daughter can find refuge. They are places where she can go to engage in her favourite pastime, reading. As a one income household with rent and bills to pay, I can keep her supplied with a never-ending stream of wonderful books that I could never afford to buy. I’ll never forget her face when she was ploughing through the history books on the open shelves in the reference section of Lewisham Library, cross referencing dates and names, completely engrossed; her reaction to the language of Dickens upon reading the first paragraph of A Tale of Two Cities, her wide eyes and her ‘wow’ as she gazed at me in awe and joy. These are occurrences that I could never have experienced without my local library.

When you are a parent or carer of a child with SEN/disabilities, you can feel very isolated. Even as a member of a support group or Facebook group, for many people social interactions with other adults, other than health or education professionals, can be minimal. For me, in times past, there were many days when the only adult conversation I had during the day was with library staff. A smile and a brief chat can help you remember who you are and what you care about. I know that I am not alone. 

Recently, on a trip to the opticians, my daughter had a complete meltdown. I stood while tears and snot and shouting happened. These events can leave you feeling drained and helpless. Once she had calmed down she elected to go to the library, a place where she feels safe and secure and where she can read, her mechanism to help her cope with life. I walked in and was greeted by a smiling face of a lovely librarian who knows both of us. She had been thinking of us as she had recently checked in a book that she thought my daughter would enjoy. Suddenly, the world felt a much better place. It may have been a small event for the librarian, but it was life affirming for me.

Libraries are so much more than buildings that are filled with books. They are a community, a social service, a place where we and our children can grow and learn about the world and our place in it. They are a part of who we are and how we live life. I can safely say they are essential for my sanity!

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed your blog Thanks for sharing such an informative post.