"A word after a word after a word is power" - Margaret Atwood


A blog for readers and writers

A blog about the stories we tell each other and how we tell them...

Tuesday, 11 January 2011


369 libraries plus 29 mobiles are currently under threat of closure or have recently been closed. 
Even where libraries are unlikely to actually close their doors permanently, hours and staff are being reduced. I was particularly incensed to read in Public Libraries News that West Sussex has saved money by demoting some members of staff from the grade of librarian  to the level of library assistant. That's just dishonest. If you cut a staff member's hours then at least he or she can look for another part time job to fill the gap, or, if that's unrealistic, can go home and read a book. 
But forcing someone to work the same hours for less money makes the cuts  'invisible' and adds a very unfair layer of blame and judgment - "you're not good enough"- to a decision which has nothing to do with quality and everything to do with budgets... 
Every corner of the UK is affected in some way and if you click on the title of this post you can see a depressingly long list and a map of libraries in danger. 
But there are some reasons to be cheerful: the following authorities have announced no library closures

Brighton (my own local authority! Hurrah! which has a quite brilliant selection of libraries from the iconic Jubilee library in the centre to tiny branch libraries such as Portslade which uses imagination and insight to connect with the local community.)
Hillingdon - a North London borough
But it doesn't matter because Roy Clare, the head of the Museuems, Library and Archive Association apparently thinks people fighting to save libraries are invariably white middle class.  If he genuinely believes that then he can't have been in a library recently (or ever, come to think of it). They have always been warm refuges, full of good things like stories and music and newspapers and information and directories and posters and leaflets and seats you can sit in without someone asking you to buy something. And we need them.

1 comment:

Ian Anstice said...

Thanks for your support for libraries. As to what I think of Mr Clare... well ....