Oh, how I laughed - bitterly.
Accidentally ended up on a page of the UK Government's website the other day, titled: Create a community library
And I quote:
Public library services are highly valued by the communities they serve.
Which, presumably, is why:
[A]longside other public sector services, they are facing enormous financial challenges.
From the same government urging you to open one, probably so they can close it down.
Hell, everybody needs a hobby, and politicians must be bored of bailing out banks by now.
Because, let's face it, we're in this financial mess because we overspent on libraries, right? Oh, my mistake, we were just too lenient on overdrawn books. Or was it the week-on-week accumulative cost of replacing Mills & Boons where the pages got stuck together? (Yeah, I almost said Shades of Grey, but couldn't picture anyone making it past the counter... maybe in some posh libraries like Dublin where they have automated check-outs...)
Still, it is really important that the Government takes the time to tell us about how important libraries are to communities on their webpage. We might not have known otherwise. What with the news being what it usually is:
Need I go on?
Though, tempting as it is to shout 'Welcome to the Big Society,' I will concede that there is an interesting article by Michelle Hurst in (of all places) the Grimsby Telegraph: Libraries - a thing of the past?
And it does rather bring to mind the article I wrote a while back on Octave Uzanne, who merrily predicted The End of Books back in 1894, and instead ended up foreseeing the invention of television.
I would never be such a muppet as to stand here and say that technology hasn't changed, or won't continue to do so. Of course it will, and society and its habits will change alongside that.
But I also refuse to stand here and swallow the blatant cachu tarw that tries to suggest that technology, rather than pure greed, is the altruistic sign-of-the-times reason that libraries are being closed at this point in history. Just as it's not the reason that services for the elderly, disabled and youth are being closed, or why there's been a mass rise in temporary accommodation, food banks, unemployment and homelessness.
Perhaps there is a case for scaling back libraries or supporting them into providing other services. But it is impossible to have such a debate when they are being systematically culled by morons. And, no, I don't blame local councils for that, and neither should you. It would be like shooting the messenger.
Right, I'm peeling off my grumpy pants and hanging them out the window for an airing. More tea anyone?
If you fancy getting further involved, you can join The Library Campaign.