Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Save Our Libraries (Please...)


I was interviewed on the radio again this morning, on BBC Hereford and Worcester, once more championing the cause of libraries, in the face of these troubled times. It's hard to know if I made any sense: live broadcasting is such an intense experience, after the event you can hardly remember what you said and it's easy to wonder if you sounded a complete idiot.


I was a bit shocked earlier this year, when speaking to friends about Sheffield's Shhhhh! campaign, that many didn't get it: they didn't really use their library, so didn't understand the importance of the fight to save them. I realised that it's easy for some of us to undervalue what libraries mean to a community - if you have money to buy your books, if your children already read, if your house has a warm, quiet place where you or your children can study, if you and your baby are already supported by a strong, family network...


Many other people think things are OK if their libraries are not actually closed, but that's less than half the story. All over the country, budgets are being slashed, projects are being axed, staffing is being cut right back. If we allow our councils to pair things down to a point where libraries can no longer do a decent job, not only do we lose that desperately important resource, but it means that they become a very easy target for closure next time round.


I hope you like these great retro posters that were designed by Phil Bradley, another loud voice for the cause. You can see his complete collection here. Print your favourite and stick it in your window!


And please, go and borrow books from your library: we need to fight for what we have, because so often we don't realise how valuable something is until after its gone.

7 comments:

Gaia Marfurt said...

We borrowed three books just last month! :)
I find the "chldren library" very useful! We have many books at home, but library is a special place where you can "taste" the books!
We have similar problems here in Italy too! School, Art, Theatres...people think they can live well without them...
:(
All the money for football, cars, and tv spots! :(

granny grimble said...

Love your blog, such fervour. You would do jolly well in Local Government!
Love Mum XXXX

Rachel said...

a fab blog in defence of wonderful books!

Vivien said...

Absolutely agree - I wrote to the head of Oxfordshire County Council recently about the possible closure of Summertown (North Oxford) public library, a lovely friendly place with the "Turrill Garden" at the back, a small peaceful oasis where local sculpture is shown. He said the council are re-thinking... Oxford's central library has become more automated - books borrowed and returned via machine. Rather sad in a way - there's no communication with the staff, unless you have a fine or reservation fee. But it does keep costs down and maybe will help libraries to survive. I suppose one has to accept that people will want to read books through Kindle (though this misses the physical aspect of a book). I would so miss a world where I didn't have individual beloved books on shelves! Children especially like going to libraries and seeing the books in physical form and choosing. Wish I knew what the solution is!

Lynne Chapman said...

You're so right Vivien. It is sad to see yet more opportunities for us to interact with machine instead of people. I can't help thinking of what a lonely, isolating experience that must make it for the elderly, who often go as much for the chat as the books.

Stephy Phillips said...

my mom is a librarian in erdington library and everything there is under threat, i work there sometimes on supply and in other libraries in the area and definatly see the importance of keeping them not just open but used!!
people think they can do without borrowing books but what they forget is that thats not just what the library offers, if libraries close then all the useful things they offer close too!

Bethany Hissong said...

The same thing is happening in the States too. I grew up loving my weekly trips to the library and took my kids when they were younger too. Now we donate books to the library book sales so that they have some extra money coming in.