Give it some library-love

08Feb13

Saturday Feb 9th is National Libraries Day.

At the risk of sounding like some witless press release, have you been into your local library lately and seen just how good they are?

Councillors and politicians up and down the land are busily closing libraries, often places which have been at the heart of their communities for 100 years or more. Often places built on money donated by philanthropists, or raised by the community, or trades unions, to enable working people to better themselves, or just to have some simple reading pleasure in their time off.

The conventionally easy thing to say is that people don’t borrow library books any more, that they would prefer to buy them off Amazon, or that people don’t read so much these days, what with all the distractions of the internet and 100 channels of telly. So, really, we don’t need libraries anymore, do we?

Well bollocks to that. I borrow plenty of books from Bristol’s libraries, and I see plenty of other folks doing likewise. But that’s kind of beside the point anyway.

Every community needs a space where people can find information about all sorts of things, and study it in peace and quiet.

Both in my local library and down the Central Reference Library I see plenty of youngsters sitting there quietly doing their homework or looking stuff up online. For a lot of kids, the library may be the only place they can study undisturbed, whether by other members of the family, or by their own self-imposed distractions – phones, web, music, whatever.

And another thing; Google doesn’t have all the answers. Google won’t always get you what you’re looking for. For that you sometimes need a librarian, you know, someone who’s an expert at finding things out.

So whatever politicians might claim, there are as many people using the library as ever. And the need for them is greater than ever. For a lot of kids it’ll be their route to a better life.

And for all of us it’s a way of getting books for business or for pleasure without handing our money over to a big cynical tax-dodging corporation.

So for National Libraries Day, show your local library some love, and stick one to Amazon by reading a book or two for free.

In Bristol they’re marking National Libraries day with some fun stuff and free stuff. More here.

Sorry, came over all preachy there. Next blog entry will be a dirty joke. Promise.

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2 Responses to “Give it some library-love”

  1. 1 thebristolblogger

    I know no one cares, but it’s proposed in the latest Bristol City Council budget that a further £200k of savings to libraries will be made by “change through Modernisation” (no, really).

    This means that another six or seven librarians, in an already understaffed service, will be fired, which is very modern isn’t it?

    This will happen again next year and the year after that.

    Libraries are finished. Centrally located talking lamposts and inflatable plants are the future of public services.

  2. I absolutely agree that our library service is wonderful – I’ve just set up a local group of the Historical Novel Society and the staff at the Central Library have been very supportive – and have offered us a meeting room in the Library! It’s just what libraries are for – a place for people to go and work, meet other readers and writers, borrow books, talk about books and yes, find information that is a lot more reliable than a lot of stuff you’ll get on Google.


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