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Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé & Adiba Jaigirdar: Libraries shaped who we are and allowed us to become authors

Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé & Adiba Jaigirdar: Libraries shaped who we are and allowed us to become authors

Best friends and bestselling authors Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé and Adiba Jaigirdar have co-authored a brand-new swoonworthy enemies-to-lovers romcom, Four Eids and a Funeral, for young adult and adult readers. Central characters Said and Tiwa are thrown together after the death of a beloved librarian who bequeaths them joint ownership of a cat. Here they discuss what libraries mean to them.

For thousands of years, libraries have served as archives of knowledge, culture and history. And today, in the Western world, libraries are more accessible than ever before, allowing a huge number of people access to the information and resources held within their walls. Indeed, libraries are not just a place for reading or books; they also serve communities. They provide a free and safe space for those who might need it; they provide free access to computers, printers, the internet – something that can be especially important in today’s world. And for authors like us, libraries are often a safe place where we get to explore the world through books, and really tap into our imagination and creativity.

Adiba Jaigirdar

In my primary school in Ireland, we were allowed to leave our classrooms to go to our little school library once a week. For that one period, we could roam around the library, check out whatever books we wanted and even read them right then and there. It was my first time having that kind of free rein in a library. Growing up in Bangladesh, for my early childhood, I’d had very little access to books as public libraries weren’t common there and books were very expensive to buy. The idea that I had an entire place full of books that I could explore to my heart’s desire was amazing to me. And what was even better was when I discovered my local library in Dublin. Larger than my small primary school library, it had books in abundance and it’s where I discovered many of the books that made me into the author that I am today. For one, my local library is where I first discovered The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot, which was my very first foray into the romance genre, which I now write predominantly in as a published author.

Even now, I am an avid user of my local library. I don’t just use it to read books, I use it for research, I used it as a space to study for all of the major exams in my life and I even check out video games.

Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

For me, libraries have always been a safe haven where the usual systemic barriers that I faced from being working class mattered less. I could access all the books I wanted for free, and I had a place to go after school when my mum was still at work – a place where I could do my homework, a place where it did not matter who I was. All that mattered was that I wanted to be there and simply could be. While people often think of libraries primarily as being where you go to borrow books, libraries for me were more than just about accessing books. They were a hub for my community and an essential point of access for so many. Libraries are where so many people are able to complete job applications, print out and fill in important documents and find support. My local library in South London was also where my mum would borrow a movie every few weeks in DVD form as we could not afford to watch movies in any other way. We’d watch each movie as a family over and over until our loan expired. The library offered us entertainment and a distraction from our rather bleak circumstances at home when we couldn’t afford it any place else.

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The library is not just a safe haven, it is a lifeline for so many families and communities.

Even though libraries are essential in our society, they don’t always get the support that they should. Many libraries are underfunded, with some even forced to close in recent years. We must support our libraries so that they can continue serving our communities.

Four Eids and a Funeral by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé and Adiba Jaigirdar is out now from Usborne

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