Saturday, 23 October 2010

One of the library staff

mentioned the dreaded words "cut backs" to me yesterday. This is getting more and more alarming.
I am certain that the government simply does not understand that librarians are also social workers, mental health workers, child minders, carers of the elderly, the local global positioning system, a parcel delivery service, detectives (of information) and researchers along with all the usual library jobs.
One of them mentioned that the knitting group might have to go. Now the knitting group costs almost nothing to run. It uses a small amount of electricity because the room has no external windows. It meets just once a month - like the bookshop group. Apparently the problem is that the room is needed for another group and, that group being larger, should apparently take preference.
I am not so sure about that. The knitting group was there first. I admit that there are usually only seven or eight people present - but that is quite enough as I am the one who does most of the teaching. Sometimes people sit and knit. Sometimes they knit and talk. Sometimes they want to know things. Sometimes the library shelves get raided.
There are several regular attendees who need the group. They are shy. They lack self-confidence. They are beginner knitters. One woman who comes gets a few precious hours of relaxation away from a difficult and demanding husband who has Alzheimer's. Another has a very high stress weekday job. She also lives alone since the death of her husband. The group has been her lifeline. There is a girl who always sits almost silently. As we left last time she said softly, "I do like coming here. Everyone is so friendly." We do try to include her in the conversation and she might really join in one day.
There is the man who does not belong and cannot even knit who usually looks in to find out what we are knitting. I have offered to teach him. He thinks he will stick to woodwork. Fair enough.
There are small children who wander in to watch. If we speak to them they mostly scuttle off again but, occasionally, questions are asked and the bolder ones might try a stitch or two. One day they may be knitters.
Knitting is a mental health activity as much as it is a physical activity. It can be relaxing, soothing, creative and constructive. (I will ignore the fact that it can also be frustrating and require the occasional deconstruction of rows.)
Altogether it is another service to the community. I am quite certain that the state's Premier and Treasurer would look on it as nothing more than a few people 'enjoying themselves' once a month. The staff member who mentioned the possible closure of the group listened to my 'this is a mental health issue' comment. She is going to take it back to the person who will make the decision.
I think I know what that decision will be - and it saddens me.


Joanna St. James said...

save your group write a letter to the mayor, anybody, there should be some sort of funding your group can get.

catdownunder said...

It does not need funding - most of us would be happy to flip in a coin each month to cover the electricity. It's a space thing - and the staff member in charge is not likely to give us space. I am going to try and talk to her though.

Sheep Rustler said...

Could you just sit around in chairs or round tables or something in the general library space and hold it? Or is it one of the libraries where librarians still get cross about people talking. My local library has a quiet reading room down one end but the rest of the library tends to be full of people talking (fairly quietly) and doing things. Just a thought. Or there is a knitting group I see sometimes in the food court of my local shopping centre (which is close to public transport) sitting around a large table knitting and talking and having a lovely time. Yes, most of them buy coffee, but no-one is actually going to chase them out if they don't.

catdownunder said...

Yes, we may need to find somewhere else - but it will not be quite the same thing. We have already tried sitting in the main area and it did not work terribly well - people do not relax in the same way and it is distracting if you are trying to teach. We will resolve it somehow.

Sheep Rustler said...

Actually I used to run a knittting group that met in a food court at a coffee shop that had comfy chairs. Yes, we had to buy stuff to stay there - but so long as some of us did, they were tolerant. And it is certainly more distracting. But it was tucked away in the corner of the food court and therefore quite pleasant and allowed reasonable concentration.