as the contents of my purse indicate - never much money but at least five library cards and my pass to the state archives which is another sort of library and card. I feel comfortable in libraries. I would probably feel comfortable in a Chinese library surrounded by books I could not read...as long as I had a bilingual dictionary so that I could make a start.
A lot of other people clearly feel comfortable in libraries too. Our local library is a very busy place, especially at weekends. Of course, these days, it provides more than just books. There are computer terminals, magazines, newspapers, e-books, CDs, DVDs, discussion groups, a gardening group, a knitting group, a cooking group and other things. School children turn up in groups during the week, the senior citizens bus stops there and the home library service is run from there.
The library service is funded by our taxes, our council rates and state taxes. It is open to everyone. You do not even need to live in the council area to use it. One of my library cards is for another council area because they have a particular collection of books I sometimes need to use.
Libraries are there for everyone. More people use public libraries each week than attend any sort of sports.
It is therefore with a sense of disbelief that library goers have found the funding to libraries has been cut yet again. At the same time the amount of money given to sport has been increased.
Now I know, and they know, that physical exercise is important. They know, and I know, that most people (including myself) do not exercise enough.
The problem is that providing money to sports clubs is not going to get more people to exercise. Sports clubs are for enthusiasts, they are for the people who want to be on a team, who want to commit regularly to training, to matches, to giving up at least one evening a week to training and at least a half day to playing. The majority of people, even if they have the time, do not want to make this commitment. Sports fields get used for a few hours during the week and then at weekends. They are important but they are, like playgrounds, not fully utilised.
Heading for the library is a different matter. You can go on your way to the do shopping (and keep your child quiet by allowing them to read while you shop) or you can go on your way from doing the shopping - remember the freezer bags and threaten the child that they will not be able to change their books unless they behave. There is no absolute requirement to be at the library at a certain time or every week or any demand that you stay until it closes. A trip to the library suits the modern, urban lifestyle.
Cutting funding to libraries makes no sense. Increasing funding for sports fields makes no sense.
What might make sense is running keep fit classes at the library - perhaps a continuous keep fit class. Come along, join in for ten minutes or twenty minutes, borrow your books and leave?