Last year, in response to a public consultation on the viability of my local public library, I offered to volunteer my unskilled services every Friday afternoon. This was my small way of signalling to the county council how precious a resource I believed the library to be, even if I hadn’t visited it that often since my children left school. (I would need three lifetimes to read the books already residing on my own shelves.) The library is situated in a reasonably, but not excessively, prosperous small town, with a mixed-age population; like a thousand others across the country, I guess. I was gratefully welcomed by the professional librarians and set to work putting returned books back in their proper place on the shelves.