The Benefits of the Library  

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With libraries becoming more and more equipped, it’s time to accept that they are moving with us into the new age. Numerous computers are installed, millions of research pages are only a click away and of course, the original USP remains the books. Personally, one of my favourite things about the library is the silence. While that sounds relatively sinister, it can be really hard to study in peace at home or even at a university library. There are a large amount of people that come purely to have a sheltered chat with their friends, which I have been guilty of myself but now library’s have introduced ‘Quiet’ or ‘Silent’ floors, you are guaranteed a place to work to your heart’s content. Also, there are now numerous cafes built inside libraries so you do not even have to leave the building in order to get a caffeine fix!

Another great aspect is the installation of computers, printers and photocopiers. I will never forget the fateful few days of no electricity in my house where I felt like a cavewoman searching for a meaning to life beyond having wifi. The library was my beacon of hope for studying and gave me the opportunity to work efficiently and in warmth. I also don’t own a working printer, so the 5p sheets of paper are what get my essays in on time.

I’ve heard arguments that libraries are now obsolete. This argument back and forth has been happening for some time and while I understand that we are taking a massive leap into a world with smart watches, robots and holographs, libraries still have a valid place in society. They have tried their best to remain modern and accessible to the masses which is what libraries have always tried to do. They offer a place of shelter, not just for printerless people like me but for people who are looking for jobs, for homeless people to sit in warmth and for people to meet and plan events in the local communities. Libraries are staples in our society. They encourage us to read and to educate ourselves further. They open their doors to anyone and everyone. Places like this in society need to be treasured and appreciated not replaced in order to make room for another Starbucks or fancy Apple Store.

I’ve not always been loyal to my library (the fines were a low point, okay!) but from being eight years old and feeling ecstatic that I could borrow books to spending hours upon hours studying for exams in my late teens, the importance of the library has always been evident to me. We should all try and support our local libraries a bit more.

The Benefits of the Library  

Monolingualism in 21st Century Britain

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When ordering food in Spain, I speak first in broken spanish before the waitress tells me it’s okay, “I speak a little english” and we continue the conversation. This time I hold all the answers. I have the power of being fluent. Upon arriving home, I overhear a woman trying to order in english, as her native tongue refuses to coil around the words, the man beside me laughs. In his eyes, she is defined by her second language and therefore deemed ‘unintelligent’. This happens to so many foreign people in the UK – I watch as they apologise profusely for mixing up words while we never even gave a second thought to learning their language in the first place. She could be a prized author. A philosopher. Her words could reduce people to tears. She could be a genius when using her native tongue. And yet we live in a society, where people are so wrapped up in their own superiority that they have the audacity to critique someone who is trying to adhere to our laziness . 

In truth, I am ashamed. In Spain, the waitress gives me the power of being fluent. She gives me the upper hand willingly. We need to break out of this stubbornness. As other countries are taught how to make us comfortable by losing their own identity, it stems into a much bigger problem. The number of students taking language degrees is at a record low, with 44 universities scrapping courses since 2000. While I do accept that languages may not be for everyone (I have had my moments of frustration while trying to wrap my head around French verbs) I think there needs to be a shift in order to make learning a language more important in the UK. Britain is more multi-cultural than ever with people from all over the world calling it home. They deserve better. I know it is not practical to ask people to learn every language but in industry, we should know how to cater to the needs of our neighbours. So that when I watch the woman in the cafe stumble over her words, I can reply, “yo hablo un poco de español”.

Monolingualism in 21st Century Britain