I can’t remember the first time I used a library, but I was little and it was housed in a very big very old very ornate building in the middle of my home town, and there were a few years back then when I have more memories of time in the library than of just about anything else. I exhausted the children’s library in, it now seems, seconds flat, and got permission to use the adult section. Heaven knows what I discovered there, but I read a lot, at a rate I can only look back on with envy. Was it six books a week we were allowed to borrow? Whatever, I used the allowance to the full.
When I first moved to Folkestone I also used the library a lot, particularly when I was freelancing and I seemed to camp out in the reference section. Then I became a bloated capitalist or something, or at any rate I came to own a large proportion of the books I need to specialise in. At the same time the library became rather more (and rather less) than a place for books. Maureen and I were in the local library just the other week, and you really have to search to find any books (though it was still being heavily used).
Nevertheless I believe passionately that libraries are an essential part of the cultural life of any community. That everyone needs and deserves to have ready access to books.
Unfortunately, our government does not feel the same. In fact, our government appears to have no time for cultural life, period! They have tripled university fees for students. They have scrapped all funding for university arts and humanities courses. They have slashed arts funding. And their cuts to local governments mean that libraries across the country will close.
Today is Save Our Libraries Day, part of a campaign to reverse those cuts or at least force local government to think again. In the war against the philistinism of this government, it is a battle we must win.
Throughout this post I put some of the brilliant posters that Phil Bradley has devised to support this campaign. There are more here.