Hello there friends, it feels like its been a VERY long time since I last sat down and just wrote how I was feeling… I think its because although I rarely get things to the standard I would like, I am a virgo… So like perfectionism and planning is sort of my thing… Anyway, I had a point I wanted to make and I’m already getting distracted, see, this is exactly why stream of consciousness posts so rarely work for me!
The thing is, the thing I kind of want to talk about today is a thing that is talked about (I certainly have mentioned it several times before) a lot, but at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I am going to mention it again. Libraries. They are important and they are under threat. I love libraries, I think they’re hugely important aspects of our communities and they need funding and they need saving and they need to stay. I seem to talk about it a lot when in front of a camera But… Today I kind of came to the realisation that there are many libraries that really don’t help themselves.
Let me explain.
I am fairly lucky in the sense that I live in an area where there are several libraries fairly near to me and thanks to an agreement among them, I can use any one of them I choose. So I literally can stroll into a random one and hire books if I so wish. That’s pretty cool.
Here comes your first bit of back story.
Recently, there has been a bit of an uproar because Bath’s Central Library and one of the smaller services in a town on the outskirts of Bath are about to have their library services cut and the two libraries moved. The local council would like you to believe they haven’t made a decision on this yet, but they don’t seem to have told their marketing department this. Ooops. Anyway, the people in Bath city centre took it upon themselves to save the central library and serve the council with some pretty scary legal stuff, but the people on the outskirts of town could not care any less that their library service is being cut which for a while really bugged me because its probably the library I use the most, that was until today.
Second bit of backstory.
Through the summer and ending this month is a library run scheme called the Reading Passport where you get the chance to win a load of books if you happen to collect stamps from certain decades in your passport. Genius idea, I love reading and being a stationary nerd, I quite like stamps too.
I mean, check it out, I am so nearly done! (Though sadly, won’t be done in time to actually enter the competition.)
Here comes the bit where the two backstories come together. I visited the smaller library today partly because I was in that part of town, partly because I wanted to try and get an extra stamp in my passport and partly because I wanted to see how well advertised the consultation on the move was, seeing as no one seemed to care.
Firstly, the library was packed, which was great to see.
Secondly, the two librarians on duty were more concerned with chatting to each other about their holidays than helping any of the people trying to use an out of order machine to hire out books or put away anything that had been returned. Not so great.
Thirdly there were no posters or consultation forms and when I asked, neither of the librarians seemed at all bothered about the fact that their jobs might not exist soon.
Finally, when I approached them with my reading passport and a selection of books, despite the reading passport having posters around the place and loads more attention than the actual important consultation about the library being moved into a much smaller space, neither of them knew what it was or what they had to do with it.
And there I was wondering why people are so passive about library services being cut. I love libraries, I know that one sour experience will not change my love for libraries, I know they are important and they are used, sometimes quite well, but honestly, if the people working in them don’t care, why should the wider community?
Though I love the concept of libraries as a quiet space for education, the collecting of books and archives, a study area and a community hub, if they want to survive, they have to change. If they want more people using them and engaging with them, the people in them need to take notice of schemes they’re running and engage in them too, they need to be attentive, no a library isn’t a shop, but god damn it, you are there to provide a service, so when an elderly lady is trying to hire some books, offer to book them out for her, don’t just watch her struggle with the self service machine and if there is a threat to that service, maybe be vocal, tell people where they can get information and send their opinions and for heaven’s sake, display the damn consultation papers. I want libraries to survive, I want to join the fight to save the two that are currently under threat in my area, but they need to want to save themselves too.
Yeah, I have no idea what this post is.
I should not write without planning in future.
This is a complete stream of consciousness and is in no way meant to bash librarians – I always wanted to be one after all! It is merely me venting my frustration at the apathy exhibited by two particular librarians, who I’m sure were just having a bad day.
Also, if you are interested in helping the residents save the libraries, there is a consultation on at the moment via bathnes.gov.uk and Save Bath Library have a very informative Facebook group!