It’s not often that I get publicly angry and rant about things, but I’ve got to join in the outrage against the closure and scaling back opening hours at libraries.
I found out last week that the library in my home town no longer opens on a Saturday. I have to ask – which complete numpty thought up that idea? In a time when we’re constantly being told children don’t read enough and that parents need to take more time to read to their children, some fool thought it would be a good idea to take away a vital resource of free books.
When I was a child, I was a voracious reader. I’m sure this will come as no surprise to anyone. It will also be no surprise that I spent a chunk of Saturday mornings in the library choosing as many books as I was allowed to take out. (It was three if I remember rightly.) It was in this old, dusty library that I discovered Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, Roald Dahl – Matilda being my favourite – and in fact probably most of the books I read from the ages of four to 18!
As a family we were comfortably off, but there’s no way my parents could have paid for the number of books I got through in a month, never mind a year. We relied on the library to fulfil my desire to read everything I could get my hands on.
So this brings me to my point about the library being closed on a Saturday. Children spend every weekday at school and their parents more than likely work from 9 to 5.30 or thereabouts on weekdays. How are these people supposed to get to the library? How are these children to get access to books, to find out about the pleasure of reading, not just reading because they’ve been set a homework assignment from school? If the Government is so concerned about improving literacy figures – and let’s face it they claim they are – why are they allowing local councils to make these cuts?
I realise that we’re in difficult financial times and that cuts have to be made, but why cut library services on a weekend? Surely Saturday is the day when most people can get to the library, so why not make the closures during the week?
And when the economy turns for the better, will councils put money back into the libraries and return the opening hours to normal? I prepared to bet that they won’t, so a vital service will be lost forever and a generation of children (and adults) will suffer for it.
Please, local councils, think before you make cuts and if you must make them, think them through and make them a good deal for everyone!