Sunday, 6 February 2011

There's more to life than books. But not much more.

I have been awoken from my writing slumber by a sense of moral outrage. I knew I was having a moment, as I started ranting on Facebook. Very unlike me, who is mostly a lurker, who likes to read about other people but not write too much themselves! So I repeat, and expand upon, some of my comments on Facebook.

It's the library situation. It is happening all over the country but in my own area, 16 out of the 34 libraries in Warwickshire are earmarked for closure. They are mostly small libraries which serve village communities.

In my view, libraries are not just about books, although reading for pleasure is the single best indicator of social mobility, according to a 2009 report by UNESCO. If our children don't read, they won't succeed in a world that is totally flooded with information. Literacy is essential.

They are about community space, where people can access information, meet, and have a quiet place to work. Libraries, the arts, young people, the elderly and children are soft targets for this government.
And in an age where it is predicted that for the first time the upcoming generation will be less socially mobile than the one before it, it is a disgrace that we are removing the opportunity for young people to have ready access to books and information services. Or in fact, anyone else for that matter....

If we allow this to happen, we will all suffer.
Philip Pullman, author, said yesterday that the impact would not be easily measured. He said:

"It's a kind of inward loss, a darkening of things, a narrowing of horizons that will gradually make us a less informed, less intelligent, less aware, less useful, less imaginative, less kindly people than we might have been."

And I absolutely and completely agree.