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.


Anonymous said...

Yay! You're back! I've really missed your writing, though I'm not one to talk as I've not written a single things for ages. I could not agree more with what you've said about libraries. The implications are horrendous, and the long term effects would be disastrous. We are just looking at the potential for opening up our school library to become a community library with a range of adult based in addition to the usual children's stuff, as well as other bits and bobs to support family reading and learning. It's a germ of an idea in its very early stages, but we feel it would have a massively positive effect on both family learning and child and adult literacy levels which have been neglected in our area. Any thoughts or ideas on this? Hope you're all well, and I'm so glad that you're back!

claires inner world said...

That's a really interesting idea, and I think it has the potential to work really well. There are a number of things to consider though - one being the separation of adult and children's books and how you manage that. We have a bit of an issue in our school library at the moment about how we stop the little ones getting hold of the highly inappropriate (for the younger ones!) teen vampire romances!!