Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Cut the Crap

So, more cuts are coming. Nothing new... In the olden days, they thought bleeding you dry was the best cure for sickness.

Not sure how accurate it is, but this map shows a list of libraries which are threatened with closure, up and down the country.

Interesting article and predictable comments about the closure of libraries, and it seems a bit of a no-brainer. Yes, electronic communication, e-books and greater investment in schools etc are all very important. But as a replacement for libraries? Not really.

Of course, when I've been working in schools, I find most of the children have barely even seen the inside of a library (unless it's a class trip), and I kind of understand the thinking behind these closures. For instance, I can't remember the last time I flicked through an encyclopedia for information, let alone went inside a library just to browse through the papers; of course, times change. With the internet, longer working hours and commutes, etc. etc. there are fewer people actually going to libraries than there were in their heyday. But, hey, there are still plenty of people who rely on these places for education, information and yes, internet access.

Some councils have tried - and are beginning - to engage with the wider, younger audience that it seems to have lost somewhere between my generation and those coming up behind. The Idea Stores in Tower Hamlets are just one example of how libraries are being "sexed up". It just goes to show that with a little bit of investment, these places can be a great, universal resource for the community. Meanwhile, some organisations are trying to promote the enjoyment of reading. World Book Night, for example, is coming up soon and has got a lot of publicity.   

Of all the things to cut back on, it just seems typical that, yet again, the literary world has to suffer, and beyond that the printed word. The impression these closures give is that reading is superfluous, easily replaced by other forms of communication. Anyway, I've said enough... I'm (seriously) off to the library now.

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