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.


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? 

REG: What? 

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

Thank you.