Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bowing to the inevitable

Although I planned to abandon this blog, and give way to the official blog for the library service I work in, I still get sent the occasional link that seems worth sharing.

This piece, from The Guardian, does seem to have almost given up on arguing for libraries, and seems to imply that we might as well get used to them no longer receiving funding from local government, and having to find their own sustainable income.

I'll resist the temptation to wonder whether a computer-recycling station running by someone with the 'gift of dyslexia' really seems an obvious match for libraries of books. Perhaps not. If libraries really have started heading down the book-free route, then maybe. Who can tell?

I can see how the funding of a building through recycling seems like a good idea, but can it prove sustainable? Does the money buy new stock, or does it pay people a wage? How long does unpaid volunteer enthusiasm last (especially when confronted by demanding customers)? How do libraries appeal to people if they don't get a regularly replenished stock?

Too many questions, not enough answers, in my book, but see what you think.

The original council library staff have lost their jobs, by the way, having passed on their skills.

The buildings have become 'community hubs'.

Library closures: what can local people do?


Kath Dunbar, a vociferous anti-library closure campaigner, echoes his views. Dunbar, 56, is among a core of around 10 volunteers now running New Cross library. "We're getting people more involved in the library who perhaps wouldn't have come in before," she says. "It's becoming more of a community library, without a doubt. I think the potential of what we can do is amazing."

New Cross People's Library

I wish them luck, of course, but why does it have to be this way? Especially as Councils claim to worry about illiteracy, and then fail to provide the essential, bottom line service for tackling illiteracy - causes of which have to include not having enough access to books at home, or sufficient encouragement to explore them (outside of school, bookshops and other daunting places).

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