Campaign to Close All Libraries

Close the libraries. No one uses them. Why not turn them into a kind of glorified government funded internet café instead? Oh…they have.

Don’t get me wrong, I like libraries. I can still remember trying to find my battered old paper library card on a Wednesday night when I was a child. An envelope in those days, that used to snugly house a card from your chosen book, which was then placed behind the librarian’s desk until you returned. If you ever returned. But I did: Wednesday.

It was fun then. Exciting. Getting something new each week without having to pay for it was better than shoplifting. Magic. It used to be busy, too. I even remember having to fight with some kid for a rubbish crime novel with a blooded knife on the cover. I stalked my assailant, knowing full well he’d put it down at some point. And he did – too many books in his hands, the greedy bastard.

But not so long ago I entered my local library. It felt like nothing had changed, other than the fact that no one was in there. Everything from the old withered book spines and hard to maintain shelving system, books where they shouldn’t be, and plasticy strips on each title.

The selection wasn’t very good (alright I wanted a travel guide to Iceland, but still…) and I couldn’t find an Honest Publishing book anywhere. But why should it be? They’re poorly funded, presumably because no one uses them.

Where’s the evolution of the library? We live in a culture of demand, where people download their TV programmes on the train, have every album they own on a key chain, and can purchase a new book with a flick of an iPad. So why are we surprised when people don’t flock to a shed load of dusty old books being stacked on grey self-assemble shelves?

Research has gone the way of the internet, and everything’s on Amazon for a few quid. Are we holding on to libraries for the sake of sentimentality and because of the notion that ‘it’s good to read’? Is the prospect of making books free and accessible to everyone a good thing? Undoubtedly. Is our current library system achieving that? No – they’re empty.

What do we do about it? Form a glorified government funded internet café instead, of course.

Daniel Marsh

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