September 22, 2006
The society of women writers and journalists
The society of women writers and journalists, which was founded in Victorian times- and now includes men!- contacted me the other day and I am absolutely delighted to hear from Ann Hamilton:
"We at the Society of Women Writers and Journalists are very concerned about the government's attitude towards libraries in Britain today. The pro-books, pro-libraries campaign must be heard. Provision of books for all is essential for the future of Britain. One fifth of all school age children are not attending studies on a regular basis. People need to rediscover the joy of reading, hearing audio tapes or being able to view dvds at their local libraries. My library is open only 3 days a week and there are always people waiting for the doors to open. Libraries are a place of wonder for small children. Holding a book, looking at pictures, listening to a story being told. The student can find all they need through talking to an experienced librarian. Closing libraries is not the answer to the government's financial difficulties. It only makes the populace more distrustful - what will happen next? Schools being run only 4 days a week? Libraries should be the top agenda-build more and fill the shelves. to fill the brains of present and future generations. "
Posted by Perkins at September 22, 2006 8:23 PM
But she does need to understand that for once this is NOT all the government`s fault.. local council`s run libraries and they are given decent money from the Council Tax to stock them. They choose not to.. and the MLA chooses to collude with them not to. That`s what this Society, like most people, doesn`t know.
Posted by: susan Hill at September 22, 2006 9:20 PM
Susan, that's so brilliant- I feel like a school teacher whose pupil has just got all the answers right. Thank you! Tim
Posted by: Tim at September 22, 2006 9:30 PM
Susan and Tim - you are both right public libraries could be more efficient and the MLA could stop frothing, colluding and concealing.
Council tax covers much less than half of council expenditure but the percentage is steadily rising. That's another Gordon Brown stealth tax and the main reason council tax is rising. This government also penalises rural areas more when it distributes the non council tax money to councils. The rural areas always spent less on libraries and everything else anyway. All this coupled with inefficiencies is why library budgets are under pressure. Then you can add into the equation other pressures like landfill taxes but perhaps I'd better stop there. So in part the government are to blame and we shouldn't forget it.
Posted by: Philip Kerridge at September 23, 2006 7:22 AM
Thank s for that reminder Philip. Living in a very rural area myself, I know what you mean.. But we are lucky in Gloucestershire. The libraries - and most of them are rural, it is a rural county - are very good. They are small, for the most part, so you cannot expect the stock of a city library in each one but they try hard. I give all the new books that come into the house as freebies, to my library... they are incredibly grateful and say especially the children say 'Ooo, NEW books' and sniff them with delight. The staff are splendid and they READ. They are book people. The computers are there but unobtrusive and there is no racket..when the children have their after-school sessions, it is just a pleasant background hum of a reading voice and a little bit of subdued chatter. Nice.
What Mr Brown does not know because he has never bothered to come to these parts to find out, is that people in the country are by no means only the well-off and titled in big estates. The rural poor are very much with us - both those who work on the land for horribly low wages, and the old and isolated. There are plenty of families on the poverty line in the small market towns. Hidden poverty really is hidden in the country and everything is being cut - medical services, help for the elderly, etc etc. We are lucky to have a decent library service. Very lucky. Which makes me all the more determined to fight for the rest who do not.
Posted by: SUSAN HILL at September 23, 2006 1:52 PM