In The Library Book, published for National Libraries Day on 4 February, twenty-three of the UK’s most outstanding writers describe libraries real or imagined, past, present, and future – why they matter and to whom.

Recognising that without libraries we would not have the writers of today and tomorrow, The Library Book’s contributors are all donating their royalties to The Reading Agency, the independent charity working to inspire more people to read more.

Included in the book are Anita Anand, Julian Barnes, Bella Bathurst, Alan Bennett, Michael Brooks, James Brown, Ann Cleeves, Stephen Fry, Seth Godin, Susan Hill, Tom Holland, Hardeep Singh Kohli, Lucy Mangan, Val McDermid, China Miéville, Caitlin Moran, Kate Mosse, Julie Myerson, Bali Rai, Lionel Shriver, Karin Slaughter, Zadie Smith and Nicky Wire.

From Alan Bennett’s Baffled at a Bookcase, to Lucy Mangan’s Ten Library Rules, famous writers tell us all about how libraries are used and why they’re important. Tom Holland writes about libraries in the ancient world, while Seth Godin describes what a library will look like in 2020. Lionel Shriver thinks books are the best investment, Hardeep Singh Kohli describes his first encounter with a punk and Julie Myerson remembers how her career began beside the shelves. Julian Barnes contributes a previously unseen extract from his novel England, England, and Stephen Fry asks, ‘have you heard of Oscar Wilde?’

Using memoir, history, polemic, short stories and more, The Library Book celebrates ‘that place where they lend you books for free’ and the people who work there.

Editor Rebecca Gray, who volunteers in her spare time for a mobile library for homeless people, says: ’What’s really come through in this project is how libraries liberate people, shape them, allow them to educate themselves. So many people are passionate about libraries – not just for the books, but for the space – and freedom – they provide. I’ve so enjoyed working with The Reading Agency and all these wonderful writers on this book.’

Miranda McKearney, Director of the Reading Agency says, "What a brilliant way to celebrate National Library Day! The publication of The Library Book proves in the words of our country’s great writers that local libraries have a transformative role which resonates into adulthood. At the Reading Agency we feel seriously privileged to be benefiting from Profile’s publication and the support of the contributing authors.

“In these tough times the need for public libraries is greater than ever. In 2012 we will run positive practical programmes supporting authors and librarians whose work encourages reading and literacy skills in local communities. The funds from The Library Book will go towards our Six Book Challenges – helping children and adults with low literacy levels. ’

Order your copy here.

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