Libraries : an easy, but not especially wise, cut

Financially times are hard. We’re all having to make cuts. And one of the perennial public bodies which surfaces at such times are libraries.

A library is an easy thing to cut. It drinks in money for very little obvious result.

I’ve spoken before about the sad truth that the cliched old librarian still exists. And that’s another easy reason to cut libraries. They’re staffed by people who look at you funny the moment you walk in. If you walk in at all. Most libraries are placed in weird, old positions and staffed at funny hours or two days a week until 1.30pm but only on months ending with a Y.

It’s too too easy to cut a service which doesn’t appear to do much on the surface.

But that’s wrong.

I am an advocate of libraries and the power they can give an individual. A good librarian has the same impact as a teacher – you remember them for life. They give you power.

I remember talking to my father who studied night after night in a library in order to gain his qualification as an accountant. I remember the children who run up to me in supermarkets and eagerly chatted with me about what they’re reading. I remember the girl, social outcast, visibly disadvantaged, who found a warm safe and none-judgemental environment. I remember the old men, charming the ladies as they discussed the morning newspapers, before going home alone.

Libraries are important. And, in the right hands, they’re brilliant. That’s why talk of cuts makes me so sad. Because I know, that the politicians, the people behind this, they’ve never seen what a good library can do.

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