Monday, 20 September 2010

I have an addiction to libraries

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 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?


Anonymous said...

Don't forget the library is for people who are not yet old enough to play sport, for those who play sport, and for those who can no longer play sport and but can still read about it.

Judy B

catdownunder said...

Then they should spend even more money on the library Judy!

Nicole MacDonald said...

Libraries - the bestest place in the World!

Where would any of us be without them (us readers/writers I mean ;p)

Rachel Fenton said...

I love libraries!

Anrdrea said...

The problem is the sports organisations have latched onto the health agenda and have undertaken a lot of research to prove that it is good for you, where as it is harder to quantify the health benefits of libraries. It is hugely frustrating but unless libraries can do more to prove their worth, the situation will continue.

Anonymous said...

I wish our library was so much bigger. Like one day I went to a huge library in London (a mega famous one which for the life of me I cannot remember what it's called), just to see what it looked lkike as I too love libraries!

Anyway I can't go so much now as our 18 month old youngling tends to pull all the books out or starts screaming or worse!

Thanks for bringing back good memories :-)
Take care, KC xx - Always welcoming new followers, guests and comments xx

Ann said...

I too feel at home in Libraries. Love the smell and the feel of them. Love perusing the shelves for new delights. I also love and played sports. But I agree, it is a shame funding has been cut.

catdownunder said...

I have yet to get a reaction from the local library staff - must call in later today and find out what they have to say - especially one sports mad male member of staff!