Some people will be reading this and thinking: why the fuss? They will point to alternatives such as Amazon, and the books on sale in supermarkets; like David Lammy they will focus on (obsess about, in his case) ‘access’, and the internet; they will wonder why we can’t look to the future rather than the past. But that would be to make a gross error of judgment. What we lose now, we will never be able to get back. Thanks to legislation passed more than 150 years ago (the Public Libraries Act of 1850), there are some 3,000 libraries in Britain – a system of which we can be justly, straightforwardly, proud.