And Another Thing

I have been distracted by things lately, hence my lack of posting.

My son is still having major difficulties engaging in formal schooling and the admin spin-offs from this are very time consuming.

My heart decided to go into AF again at the end of January and this time stayed in it. Cardioversion due in a couple of weeks. Fingers crossed.

I also realise I have been moaning about life a lot and not putting much creative stuff up.

I promise this will change.

However for the moment, just one more gripe – book related (very much so) this time. So without further ado:

 

I just went to what passes for a library here.

The first thing that hit me as I opened the outside doors was the cacophony of sound.

On the left was the children’s library, but it was occupied by a mother and baby group.

Now I’m all for introducing kids to books and stories early but these were infants. Beyond subliminal memories of sitting in recently privatised Postman Pat’s defensively driven van, I’m not sure what this is doing.

It would be all right if it were held in a separate room, there is a meeting room with kids books in, but maybe it was in use.

When the children’s noises and the adults’ chatter died down there was the click of computer keys and whine and clunk of a photocopier to my right and directly in front of me was a help desk for the County Council dealing, in public, in an open plan space, with benefit queries, housing claims and all sorts of quite personal matters that should be dealt with elsewhere. Until recently they were, but cost cutting shut that building and moved everyone in the ‘hub’, hugger mugger.

For the library is no longer actually a library.

It is some sort of ‘hub’ with a few books lying around.

It is currently a ‘community hub’ since they binned loads of the books.

I had heard it was going to be a business hub but if it is, the difference isn’t discernible, not that I know what to look out for.

I like to look for a book and browse and dip into books in a library, in a quiet peaceful mode. Not compete with screaming children and people trying to access things they should be accessing elsewhere. Don’t misunderstand me. I think the provision of free internet access to people who can’t afford thousands of pounds to own the hardware and software connections to basic services the government has outsourced and consolidated is essential. I’d be happier if you could walk into an office and speak to a live human being, but that would no doubt destroy someone’s economic model of efficiency. Pesky humans getting in the way of efficiency models – never mind Cyberdyne is on the way.

Failing that I’d be happier if that side of the library (there are no reference works barring a small local history section available in the library anymore, the reference provision is basically Wikipedia) were in a separate room, where people could trawl the net in vain and in quiet for a reliable source for anything.

As for actual books there are hardly any to browse through and since the number of actual librarians has been slashed, some of the cataloguing and stacking leaves a bit to be desired.

But that is not my main beef about the way the place is struggling to attract visitors. I am reliably informed that, although there are obviously cuts to local authority budgets thanks to global capital crashing itself into the buffers and the rest of us having to pick up the tab, one of the main problem for the libraries in Monmouthshire is a particular councillor. This councillor has a prominent role in funding or lack of it for libraries. They hate libraries, don’t use them themselves and don’t see why anyone else would want to.

Hooray for culture eh?

Maybe they can buy any books they like. Maybe they don’t read and just like destruction of culture.

Councils under pressure point to falling use of libraries as libraries as a reason to cut funding, and go for computers and multi-use ‘hubs’ and close libraries. But of course the reason numbers of users are falling is because:

There are no books.

There is noise and distraction and competition for space.

They are used as office space for providing other social services the Council don’t like providing but have to.

The library isn’t open when people can access it.

Our ‘library’ shuts at 1700hours three days a week, at 1600hours one day a week, at 1200hours one day a week and at 1300hours on one day. The one time working people and schoolchildren get a proper chance to access a library is for three hours on Saturday between 1000hrs and 1300hrs.

3 hours to take books out, and 3 hours to return them.

And notices of overdue books have just gone all digital – so no mobile or no computer and no notification you are racking up a fine.

And so the councillor who hates libraries can stand up and say ‘what’s the point? No-one uses them.’

I’d like to point out that the staff that remain do their very best under enormously difficult circumstances. The pressure on them must be terrible and the fault here lies at a funding and commitment level way above them. Their commitment is undimmed.

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