Thursday, 23 September 2010

My letter to the editor

with respect to the (de)funding of libraries was not appreciated by the president of a hockey club. His letter accuses me of being wrong. Sport, he says, is not 'elite' and I said it was. Many people do not read books. Libraries therefore are not, as I suggested, for everyone.
Now, I did not say say sport was elite - although few could argue that sports funding does tend to favour the elite in the sense that it funds those who are on teams, or training to become part of a team. That is the point of sports funding. Funding for physical exercise is a different story and does not receive the same attention.
But the notion that libraries are not for everyone? Now I really do have to take exception to that. Good community libraries really do cater for everyone. You do not have to read books to use the library. I know several people with well-used library cards who do not read books or even listen to audio-books, at least two never borrow reading material. They borrow music CDs and DVDs or the few old videotapes the library still has on the shelves. Others borrow magazines but do not borrow books.
One person has a library card simply to use the photocopier to increase the size of print on things he wishes to retain. He jogs there and back despite being visually impaired.
Another person comes into the library just for meetings of the gardening club. I happen to know he can barely read but he contributes to the gardening club and some members of it have been to look at his excellent garden. He cycles there and back at the age of 84.
There is a boy with Down Syndrome who borrows CDs, DVDs and magazines with the help of the staff. He cannot read a lot but his library card and his weekly trip to the library are important to him. He walks there and back slowly because of his heart condition.
Of course there are a lot of people who do not use the library. They may, or may not, play sport.
The two things are not mutually exclusive, far from it.
My feeling is that sport is not necessarily elite but it does tend to be about being on a team or being 'the best'. Physical exercise is not necessarily about sport - or should not be.
Libraries however are something else. They can cater for everyone, whether you read or not.
The president of the hockey club is, at least in my opinion, wrong to suggest that funding sport in preference to libraries can be justified. Libraries really can cater for everone - and they can often use physical exercise to get there.


Ann Best said...

I love libraries! I hope they never disappear. It would be dreadful.

Thanks for stopping by and wishing me well with my cold. Vitamin C yes, and lots of sleep. I can sleep. Jen will let me sleep. Thank goodness she isn't sick too, not yet.

And thanks for your confidence that I can handle the edits on my book. I'm really excited to get this finished!!

Have a great day tomorrow "down under." Jen says "ditto."

Weaving a Tale or Two said...

Hear hear!

Sheep Rustler said...

It's an age-old argument that no-one will ever win. I think Olympic athletes are elitist, by definition, but they don't have to pay HECS fees for their training at the AIS. IF my daughter goes to university to study music and teaching, to bring education and enjoyment to the unwashed, she will be stiffed with HECS fees. I would rather see funding go to libraries than any organised sport, however at the very least I expect a society that supports both rather than sport over education and culture!

Anonymous said...

Well written, Cat.

Libraries are for everyone, even elite sports people .... though I suspect that some of them would probably have trouble reading the sign which says'Library'. Elite footballers have to be told by the umpire why he has awarded a free kick so it is obvious not all players have read the rule book.

Judy B

catdownunder said...

Sigh...sorry about the cat hairs folks. I just had to get it off my furry chest!

Susie Hewer said...

Hi Cat,

Sorry for the delay in replying to your comment on my poor, neglected blog! I'm just about to update it at long last.

I agree completely about libraries and cannot believe that they are to lose funding. Living out in the sticks, I expect that we will lose our wonderful mobile library service which is a lifeline for those elderly residents with transport problems.


Shandy said...

I really enjoyed reading your post, but there are simply two kinds of people:those who think sport matters and those who don't. I think exercise is a good idea but sport leaves me cold. On Sports day, at the school where I teach, all the overweight kids, who could do with a brisk walk, have to sit and watch all the fit kids compete. It doesn't make a lot of sense.