From the library service — with more than 330 branch libraries and 31 of the mobile variety — comes news that should be celebrated in homes and schools across the country. Its report on borrowings for last year show that most of the top 20 borrowed books were titles for children. Only one novel for adults is in the top 10 list.
This is especially welcome, and perhaps surprising, given growing worries about the gradual demise of the printed word in a world in which the flashy allure of mobile phone and iPad screens can so easily hold the attention of young, impatient minds eager for the next visual fix. Books, as Stephen King has said, are a uniquely portable magic.
He might have added that they do not rely on battery power, wifi signals, or any brand of software.
Also encouraging was the almost unchanged overall borrowing figure, at 18.2m, while library visits were counted in at 17.2m, a drop of a mere 1.8%, and a reward for the imaginative work being done by the people who run our public libraries.