Saturday, 17 September 2011

Love books!

Unfortunately too often we hear and read (or even experience) sad news about difficulties regarding the library services, not just in the UK. Libraries are being closed, funds limited, staff hours cut and people made redundant. It is definitely a situation calling for action. But how to advocate in this subject, what can be done? Will just a collection of signatures under all sorts of petitions help? Will protesting on streets help? Not many of these have helped before in similar or even more serious (e.g. war on Iraq) cases.
The Women's Institute runs a campaign Love Your Libraries calling to sign their petition . That is, of course, a positive action against cuts and threat of closure of some 20% of the UK public libraries. But shouldn't we rather start campaigning with something like LOVE BOOKS action and address it to the youngest, the school children or perhaps also to their parents and these who decide about school curricula. The spectrum of titles which children are presented with at school and obliged to read is shockingly narrow. The young people, when leaving school, have never read any of the classics, never heard even the names of the greatest creators of the world's literature, know little or nothing about reference books and the only source for information for them is GOOGLE (with all due respect to it). Even if I exaggerate a bit, I don't think I am very far away from the facts.
The example at home (parents seen with a book in hand instead of being in front of the TV all the time), good school libraries with professional staff encouraging children to read and respect books could definitely help to appreciate the irreplaceable value of books in life and the value of libraries. All sorts of them - public, school, academic etc. Books are and should remain the best friends for us - in good and in bad times, in work and leisure, always. So yes - let's run campaigns, let's shout about all that is important for us, but let's start there where it really begins and hopefully it should fruit later in everybody's life.
The participation of well known people - celebrities - in actions like this might be a great help. Probably their voice is better heard than thousands of signatures collected on the petition or even a march of librarians on Oxford Street in London. Someone like Joanna Lumley perhaps? She proved that she can be heard!

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