I know, two posts in a day, how unexpected!
After I finished writing my last post I had a few jobs to do before I could go to the library. I had to take a book back. Well, I just made it, they were closing the blinds, a minute more and I’d have missed them entirely.
We’re fairly lucky, I suppose, that despite the threats to close local library’s we’ve managed to keep ours, if at reduced hours. Until late last year the library was open until half seven three nights a week and until 5.30pm the other two nights, plus 9 – 2 on a saturday. It is now open 9 – 5.30 everyday and 9 – 2 on a saturday. And the next nearest is only a half hour bus ride away. So, fairly lucky.
Many communities have not been so lucky. This is terrible. I know from a lifetimes acquaintance with the local library that it is not just a place to borrow books. Its a community centre and meeting place, local notice board for clubs and societies, access to the internet, a safe place for children to do their homework, an extension to the local schools and somewhere those who might other wise be isolated can feel welcomed and included. Staffed by members of the community (mostly, here at least) and provided for the community, they are essential, especially in isolated areas.
Not long ago the library got flooded and was shut for the best part of a month. The staff put on a skeleton service in the civil hall next door and tried to carry on, but everyone was pleased when it re-opened. The building is a dodgy sixties prefab, too small for the community, which has grown so much since then. There are only two computers, constantly in demand and booked. We could do with a new, bigger and more comfortable building to house what is essentially our community centre.
But we won’t get it.
Cuts in council budgets mean that when other libraries are closing the local county council won’t spend money improving an old one, and the town council can’t afford to.
And the provincial in me wants to say that the county council has no love for my little town, despite it making significant contributions to the council’s budget, so we won’t get anything even if we need it. Yes, that feeling is fairly common, although not necessarily justified.
So, value your library, its not just a building full of books.