What Have Libraries Ever Done For Us?
I’ve been giving author talks in libraries for the last five years and everywhere I go, library services and funding are being cut-to-the-bone. For those who don’t quite understand how ridiculously stupid this is, I thought I’d help. Enormous apologies to Monty Python.
SCENE: COUNCIL MEETING ROOM INT
A group of councillors are sitting around a large table discussing proposed cuts to council funding. Council funding leader, Reg, is flipping through a large folder. Fellow councillors Alice, Sophia, Peter, Floella and Loretta watch nervously.
REG: Right, we need to make some cuts. I’m thinking libraries. I mean, what have libraries ever done for us?
ALICE: Free wifi?
ALICE: Free wifi. My local library has free wifi.
REG: Oh. Yeah, yeah. They did give us that. Uh, that's true. Yeah.
SOPHIA: And increased literacy rates, Reg, which considerably improves the life chances for all kinds of people.
REG: Yeah. All right. I'll grant you the free wifi and improved life chances through better literacy are two things that libraries have done for us.
PETER: And borrowing books for free.
REG: Well, yeah. Obviously borrowing books. I mean, the borrowing books goes without saying. But apart from the free wifi, improved life chances and borrowing books–
FLOELLA: Use of computers.
ALICE: Reference materials.
PETER: You can read the day’s newspapers in mine.
REG: Yeah, yeah. All right. Fair enough.
FLOELLA: And free talks from authors and other interesting people.
PETER: Yeah. Yeah, that's something we'd really miss, Reg, if the libraries went.
SOPHIA: Our library has a great children’s area with a sensory wall.
LORETTA: And ours has got sections in different languages like Urdu, Gujarati, Chinese, French, Spanish, German, Italian and Polish.
REG: All right, but apart from the free wifi, improved life chances through better literacy, borrowing books, use of computers and reference materials, the newspapers, interesting talks from a wide range of people, children’s areas with sensory walls and different language sections, what have libraries ever done for us?
ALICE: Helped promote civilized societies?
REG: Civilized societies? Shut up!
NB. There are so many other reasons why libraries are essential that I didn’t have time to mention. For more reasons why libraries are so important please listen to this brilliant podcast called Palaces for the People