Friday, December 3, 2010
We're all a bit jittery at work. Meetings abound and it's not good news.
Smaller branches of the library will probably close next year, and even if they do stay open - run by volunteers as proposed - the existing staff will be out of work, at a time when unemployment is already high and rising.
We've tried many strategies to tempt in new users (is that the right word? Sounds a bit addict-y) but the truth is libraries aren't *cool*. Add to that terrible faux-pas the fact that books are cheap and everyone has knowledge at their fingertips in the form of the Internet and you may well ask, "What's the point of libraries?"
In fact somebody did - huddled at the back of the village hall in his puffa jacket. Words like 'community' and 'public service' were bandied about in response, but he didn't look convinced.
In the interests of answering this question I asked around friends and family and discovered that out of everyone, only my Mum uses her local library up in Scarborough. One friend worries about 'germs' so would no more borrow a book than run her hands round the rim of a public loo.
Another belongs to a book-swapping scheme, so doesn't need the library for reading purposes, and pays a small monthly fee to Love Film, which means she gets sent DVDs through the post that she can return at her leisure - "without paying a fine," she added pointedly.
My own children (sob) claim libraries are "a bit smelly and for old people" although I do bring home books and films for them every week whether they like it or not, which they do read and watch. But they no longer venture inside of their own free will.
In fact a lot of people I spoke to said they have fond memories of libraries; that they used to go a lot when they were younger, but don't any more - they just never think about it.
Somebody said they're not "relevant" in the modern world.
One or two said they're good for using the computer and printing stuff out, but they don't bother looking at the books.
Doesn't bode well does it?
What am I going to do with all my cardigans when I no longer work in a library??