The Future Of Libraries


In a recent Irish Times article, I read that library staff voted against co-operating with the new government initiative of ‘staffless’ libraries.  Many authors have come out against the scheme and at first, I thought I agreed, but having considered the benefits, now I’m not so sure.

The other day, I was in town and thought, ooh, I wonder if they have that new book in I’ve been looking for.  I threw my full weight against the door, assuming it was open, but my unstoppable force met an immovable object.  This was 11:30 am.  Galway City Library doesn’t open until 2pm on a Monday.

Here’s the timetable:

Monday 2.00pm to 5.00pm
Tuesday 11.00am to 8.00pm*
Wednesday 11.00am to 8.00pm*
Thursday 11.00am to 8.00pm*
Friday 11.00am to 5.00pm
Saturday 11.00am to 5.00pm

Now, I have to say it’s great that they stay open until 8:oo pm on three evenings, but wouldn’t it be great to pop into the library on a Sunday afternoon?  Or what if you want a quiet place to read/write/study on a Monday morning?  What if your idea of the perfect Saturday night is to spend a few quiet hours searching the spines of the non-fiction supernatural section of your local library?  (Sounds like the perfect meet cute if you ask me!)  We have become so  accustomed to having unlimited access to things, so why not libraries?  As I see it (and I am prepared to be corrected on this) staff would still continue to work their regular hours, however patrons could use a key code to access the library out of hours.  The fear seems to be that this initiative would eventually make their jobs obsolete, but I’m not sure that necessarily follows.  I recall the same reaction to the introduction self-service checkouts, but did they actually replace people?  I don’t think so, they just gave customers another option.  I still prefer to deal with an actual person, but sometimes convenience wins the day.

The fact is that libraries need to adapt in order to remain relevant in a world where life online seems to be taking over.  So rather than hold fast to the way things have always been done out of fear of the unknown and change, I think we should embrace it and allow our public spaces to evolve.    Public libraries are just that – PUBLIC.  They are public spaces that should be open to the communities they serve.  If staffless libraries are an extension of library services, rather than a replacement, then I fully support them.  To be honest, I’m pleasantly surprised that our government is trying to encourage people to make more use of the library, rather than announcing a raft of library closures.  I understand that staff members are concerned about what this might mean for their jobs in the future, and maybe I’m being naive here, but I don’t see how keeping the doors open (in a manner of speaking) after they leave for the day, will threaten their livelihoods.  Librarians do a lot more work than simply checking out your latest Liane Moriarty, and I have no doubt that this work will continue regardless.

My main concern would be one of security.  I suppose, as a woman, I would have reservations about entering an unmanned (or unwomanned?) building with a locked door.  Then again, I’m not sure how many black-belt librarians there are, even if trouble broke out during normal business hours.  I guess it’s something that needs to be looked at, but it does seem to be proving a success in Scandanavian countries, the part of the world we all seem to be looking to nowadays for hygge, furniture and crime novels.

It’s a controversial idea and people have very polarised views on the subject.  It’s quite similar to the mass hysteria that greeted the arrival of eBooks.  People lamented the death of the book as we know it, but as it turned out, nothing could have been further from the truth.  Yes, it shook things up a bit, but the fact is that bookshops still exist, readers still read paperbacks and best of all, readers have a choice that they didn’t have before.  eBooks and eReaders have got more people reading, which is what really matters, in my opinion.  I recently joined an online bookclub and it soon became clear to me that the vast majority of members hardly ever visited their local library.  People seemed clueless about BorrowBox and the eBook lending scheme that has been running for quite some time now.  For some, it was almost a revelation that you could read books for free!  I think we need to encourage people back to the library and this scheme might do just that.

I have read the most wonderful testimonies from people who have a very good relationship with their local librarian, but for me, it’s all about the space.  A library is one of the most sacred spaces we have in our towns and cities, where anyone, from any social background, can enter for free and spend as long as they like nourishing their mind and their soul in the company of books.  It’s one of the last escapes that exist; a quiet and special place, where you are not expected to do anything, be anything or buy anything and I really believe that increased access to such an amenity can only be a good thing for society.


Meanwhile, you can download both of my novels here:

new heirloom1+1 Amazon (Paperback)Kindle


The Mysterious Bakery On Rue de Paris (7) - Copy Amazon (Paperback) ~Kindle ~Nook ~ iTunes ~ Kobo 




Learning To Love Books


I was lucky at school, because the novels I studied for both state exams became life-long friends.  I was nervous of the classics to begin with, but I quickly identified with Dickens’s Pip from Great Expectations and fell in love with the Yorkshire moors of Wuthering Heights.  I learned to appreciate these two literary greats, but did it encourage me to read after the school bell rang?  Eh, unfortunately, no.

Some people seem to be born bookworms, but I’m not sure if that’s really the case.  Reading, or rather the love of reading, needs to be fostered and that begins at home.  My mother grew up on a farm, where reading was something of a luxury.  There was always work to be done, so reading was only done in stolen moments.  I, on the other hand, had nothing but time.  I was sick a lot as a child and people always brought me books to read in bed.  I started with fairytales and comics, then moved onto books like Gulliver’s Travels, The Famous Five and when my sister decided I needed a good scare, Edgar Allen Poe.  I loved escaping into this magical world and while I was hardly a book worm, I enjoyed discovering new stories.  But as I got older and thankfully my health improved, I left books behind for more teenage pursuits.  It was only when I was in my twenties that I reignited my love for reading, reacquainting myself with the wonder of a fully stocked library.  I remembered the feeling of possibility I used to get as a child, knowing that I could pick any book I liked (or three) and then return in three weeks time to start the search all over again.

I’m sure the curriculum has changed since I was in school, but I wonder to what extent the teaching has changed?  Whether it is stated or merely implied, the message filters down that ‘serious’ books are more important and somehow better than, say, romance novels or children’s books.  Book snobbery begins to spoil the experience of reading, just as music snobbery or art snobbery spoils the fun of both creating and enjoying what should be a pleasurable experience.  The term ‘Chick Lit’ is a perfect example of this.  A whole swathe of talented writers are belittled by this insulting term and consequently, their readers.  Reading should, above all, be enjoyable and once this judgmental element is introduced, many people give up on reading altogether.

Reading a certain book doesn’t make you more intelligent any more than drinking absinthe makes you Van Gogh. It’s how you read, as much as what you read.

Matt Haig

It’s so important to cultivate a love of reading from an early age, letting children experience reading as a form of self-indulgent relaxation, instead of another intelligence test. The  ‘One city, one book’ initiative is a great way of getting the younger generation into reading outside of the classroom.  Story Time at your local bookshop or library is another enchanting portal to the world of books, that will teach little ones the joy of losing themselves in the pages of a book.  Forget genres, forget what you ‘should’ read, just enjoy reading.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris by Evie Gaughan

The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris

by Evie Gaughan

Giveaway ends November 04, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Between the pages…

I love finding old notes, especially when they are hidden in the pages of an old book.  I recently had occasion to rifle through an old French grammar book of mine, (swotting up for my novel set in France) when I found a note from a dear college friend.



To anyone else, it’s not a very exciting note, but to me, it’s like a time-machine.   Before mobile phones, texting and emails, this was how people communicated kids!  As soon as I read it, I was instantly transported back to my year abroad (my Erasmus) where I studied for my marketing diploma in France.  At the tender age of 19, I set off for Toulouse and made some of the best friends I ever had.  I recalled living on the third floor of the students residence (and regularly cursing those stairs) in a small room with a single bed, a study desk, a wardrobe, a sink and a bidet of all things.  How very French!  I remembered how each of the foreign exchange students found strange and varied uses for their bidets, from a beer cooler to a foot spa 🙂

We were all broke, all of the time and yet always seemed to have the best fun.  Having impromptu dinner parties by leaving our room doors open and each cooking a course on an electric hob.  Nursing teeny tiny cups of coffee in the student cafe, playing Dame de Pique (I still don’t understand that game to this day).  Or maybe that’s my rose coloured glasses view of the past (more like wine glasses!)  Of course we swore we would keep in touch and of course we didn’t.   There was no Facebook or Twitter, but if there was, I probably wouldn’t have this note, or the countless letters that I exchanged with my family, which are so dear to me now.  Sometimes I think we are losing so much by making everything in our lives digital (I know, I know, the irony of being an eBook author is not lost on me).  There’s something visceral about a hand-written note that can conjure up memories and emotions unlike anything else.  I’m glad I kept it.

So I got to thinking, do other people still keep notes in old books, or better yet, have you found anything interesting in a second-hand book or a library book?   Well here’s a little montage of notes found in library books – from heart-warming to silly – which I’m sure you will enjoy.

You can check out my ‘francais‘ in my new book, The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris, which is currently on sale at the ridiculously low price of 99p!  Ooh la la 🙂


The Long Room Library, Trinity College.


the long room

I was like a bit of a tourist in my own native land last week, when I decided to visit Trinity College in Dublin for the first time.  It’s a fascinating place, all cobblestone walkways and tour guides dressed like Sherlock Holmes (not sure what that was about!).  But my destination, of course, was the library.  Built in the 1700’s, the Long Room has over 200,000 books nestled in the grandest bookcases you have ever seen, with an impressive barrel-vaulted ceiling, allowing for an upper gallery of bookcases.  Needless to say, I wanted to move in!  Each section has a wonderfully large sash window, perfect for curling up in, and an old wooden ladder to reach into the farthest corners for your next read.  The scent of old books and polished wood is like a comfortable, literary blanket wrapped about you, as you wander through this treasure trove of books.

Marble busts of great philosophers and writers line the Long Room, from Plato to Jonathan Swift, giving a very distinguished air to this hallowed place.  I would have liked to have stayed longer, but I found myself being swept along with a large group of Italian tourists and before I knew it, I was in the gift shop shouting ‘Andiamo!’  Unfortunately, the room is roped off three quarters of the way down, for reasons known only to management, so you do feel a little short changed.  However, I would definitely recommend visiting the Old Library, for this is also the home of The Book Of Kells.  It’s fascinating to see the intricate details of this manuscript up close, but again, there isn’t a lot of time to take it all in, as there are so many visitors vying for space.  But not to worry, you can always view The Book Of Kells digitally online here, so even if you can’t make it in person, you can check it out from home.

If you are a Star Wars fan, it has been claimed that the ‘Jedi Archives’ in Episode II:Attack Of The Clones is an exact replica of the Long Room.  I’m sure there are all sorts of legal reasons why I can’t say it was based on the Long Room, but a quick look at this photo will leave little doubt in anyone’s mind where George Lucas found his inspiration.

I am such a huge fan of libraries.  When I lived abroad and didn’t have much money to spare, I found sanctuary in my local library.  No matter where you are in the world, you can have access to countless books for a small annual fee.  And now there are many local libraries offering eBook lending to customers, which is bringing the public library bang up to date.  The latest private sector incarnation of this kind of model are the subscription services provided by companies such as Scribd and the  Kindle Unlimited.  It’s unclear how these kind of companies will impact on readers, publishers and authors in the future, but if it means that people are trying out new writers (especially self-published ones) then it’s certainly worth a go.  Already, people are downloading my new novel, The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris with Kindle Unlimited, so I know that I am reaching readers that otherwise may not have read my book.  So if you are trying out this new service on a trial basis, you can read my book for free!  You can also sign up for a month’s trial on Scribd and read my debut novel, The Cross Of Santiago.