First of all, I’d like to thank Lucy for letting me loose inside her beautiful home (oops, sorry Lucy, that chair was a bit weak, it’s poor legs just gave way) and for the lovely snack, sorry – MEAL – she laid on for me – banana cake, apple pie, fruit fritters, banana split ice cream (with cherries and pineapples), banana milkshake and everything – YUM.
But now I have to knuckle under and get on with the reason I’m here – sorry Lucy, your touchpad keyboard breaks just as easily as mine does, have you got a real keyboard, you do? Great, thank you – now, where was I?
Oh yes, the REAL reason – oh, Luceeee, you don’t NEED to put the dishes into the dishwasher, I’ve made SURE they are all clean – a sort of prewash cycle using my tongue….
Wonder why she’s gone that funny pale greenish type colour…maybe she ate too much…mmm…
Yes, back to business, the REAL reason I’m here is to tell you all about something I’m very worried about – Public Lending Libraries!
Why am I concerned about them?
There are fewer and fewer of them every week, especially here in UK….
It seems to me that either people don’t care about them, or they feel helpless to do anything about it when some local authority or other decides to close them, using the excuse “they are undersubscribed” (aka – underused)”and the monies used to keep them open can be better utilised elsewhere”. I find it very interesting that no-one ever specifies WHERE this ELSE is….
It begs the question WHY are they being underused?
Lets think about this for a few moments…AFTER we consider the when and why libraries were set up.
WHEN were Libraries set up?
The earliest known Libraries date back almost 5000 years, (click HERE to read what Wikipedia tells us about them, then come back to read some more of my wandering warblings) 🙂
Find it interesting?
I wonder how much knowledge has yet to be found, only today 11th July 2013, one newspaper reports that Archeologists say they have discovered a new form of primitive writing in markings on stoneware excavated from a relic site in Eastern China, dating back 5000 years, about 1400 years earlier than the oldest known written Chinese language (found on animal bones dating to 3600 years ago during the late Shang dynasty).
Probably the most famous Library (outside of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Unseen University) is the ancient Egyptian Library of Alexandria and we all know what happened to that – either someone forgot to blow out the candle before leaving or, someone wanted to destroy it because of all the knowledge it contained.(was this the the REAL reason the Nazi’s burnt books just before WWII started, to keep the German populus in ignorance). That always helps make it easier to control people, certain churches did the same thing until the printing press was invented in Europe…
WHY were Public Lending Libraries set up?
According to Wikipedia, ‘for the benefit of users who were not members of an institution such as a cathedral or college‘
So why are they being under used?
Maybe because in these days of widespread technology people are more interested in SEEING things rather than READING about things – a lot less energy involved and we are all told to be more energy efficient….
Maybe it’s cooler to be seen with the latest device, instead of the latest book. Although I don’t think this is the reason, after all, eReaders, etc, still need people to read them and use their imaginations to picture the characters and scenes in the same way as books.
Some other reason entirely. For example, is it because parents are such busy people, especially nowadays, that there’s little or no time to sit down and read, or even teach their children how to read. Anyway, that’s the job Teachers are paid to do! It IS? Oh, REALLY?
I find ALL of the above ‘reasons’ very sad, because by not reading, people are losing the ability and desire to use their imaginations. Why is THAT important? Because it was by using imagination that the Human Race went from hiding in burrows, up trees, in caves or anywhere they could to avoid being killed, or worse, eaten.
Ach, that could never happen nowadays, we’re MUCH too advanced for anything to threaten us now I hear you say…..REALLY?
If the Sun were to send an extra strong pulse of its matter in our direction, wiping out all the electrical and electronic systems, including the – GASP – Internet – how would we know how to fix things again if there are no longer any Libraries, with BOOKS that are not affected by electronic pulses….
Oh, there’s always the National Libraries….REALLY?
It strikes me that if the Governments of the world all thought the same about National Libraries as they seem to consider Public Lending Libraries, i.e. “they are undersubscribed and the monies used to keep them open can be better utilised elsewhere, like storage, secure storage ,very, very secure storage and located in places where the populus can never find them” the world would be a much knowledge poorer place.
Realistically speaking though, THAT is unlikely to happen. What is MORE likely to happen is that people will lose the ability to IMAGINE…and it is this ability that is vital for the species to retain.
OK, so HOW do we keep this wonderful ability alive?
Keep the Public Lending Libraries OPEN
Use technology for the TRUE purpose it was intended for – to make life EASIER for people and give them MORE TIME to relax and reflect and read, for themselves and their children, and to teach their children not only HOW to read, but how to ENJOY reading… that will exercise everyone’s imagination for a start.
Encourage Authors to keep writing and to write more by raising their profile and status the way that Actors, Architects and Scientists (and lately Engineers) have had their status upgraded.
Keep ARTS (which does include literature) ALIVE in Schools, Colleges, Universities and – YES – Industry…there’s nothing worse than an ‘expert’ who cannot explain clearly what they have just done / made / invented / created, except to another ‘expert’.
Teachers – invite authors into your schools and classrooms, from locally grown ones who can actually visit, to International ones who can be talked with (and seen) using the internet, Skype, video conferencing (use a Library that has these facilities for FREE) a fourth grade class in Honduras has already set the example.
Authors – contact schools and offer them the chance to meet you and learn about you and your books.
LOCAL and NATIONAL GOVERNMENT Officials – FUND your Libraries, REWARD schools that encourage interaction with Authors – MAKE THAT MUCH VAUNTED HARD DECISION and spend money on education which develops the imagination of children and adults….I promise you will see and reap benefits beyond your current imagination….
Gasp – excuse me while I get back down from the top of Lucy’s table, I mistook it for a soapbox there for a moment or two…
Whatever is done to keep imagination alive has GOT to be good.
The Story Reading Ape
What do you do to keep the imagination alive? And how do you think we can keep governments from closing Public Libraries?