on a failed attempt to "win" the right to host the World Cup at some far distant time in the future. There was never any chance we would succeed and I am angry, very angry. The bid was arrogant and an embarrassment that should never have seen the light of day.
That money could have been spent on other, much more necessary things. If it had to be spent on sports related activities even then there are far more worthwhile things that it could have been spent on. We are, I believe, still going to waste an incredible some of money on "upgrading" the Adelaide Oval, home of cricket (in which I have some faint interest). The amount apparently required keeps rising, the last I heard it was heading well over the $700m mark and climbing. The locals do not want it but the Premier thinks he will be around to open the new stadium and that is all that matters.
Now, I know sport is important to many people and that public money will be spent on it. The problem, as I see it, is that more people use public libraries. Libraries are also important to people - and we spend less money on them. There are plans to spend even less money in the future. Nicola Morgan over on "Help I need a publisher" and others are, quite rightly, getting worked up about the potential closure of some libraries in the UK. You do NOT close libraries. They are the lifeblood of the community. Where the churches were once the (weekly) gathering place libraries have become a similar place for many non-church goers.
Libraries are no longer merely places where books are held captive on shelves and readers are reluctantly permitted to borrow them from a grim faced, bespectacled and elderly librarian who glared and put a finger to her lips to ensure silence.
I have talked about our local library on this blog before and I will no doubt do so again. It is worth reiterating, our library is the hub of the community. There are books (and large print books), magazines, newspapers, DVDs, CDs, talking books, computers, the inevitable photocopying machine, a Justice of the Peace service on Tuesdays, storytelling for small children and songs for babies, a parent group, a teen group, a gardening club, a knitting group and at least five "book groups". There are school term activities and holiday activities. Recently they hosted a book repair workshop. Our library is a busy place.
I am worried however by what appears on our new bookshelves. Over the past few years we have relied more heavily on "donations". Many of these are unwanted presents or books that having been read by one reader are passed on because they do not wish to keep them. Other books are clearly cheap "remainders". We get some of the standard popular fiction on the best-seller lists and we get some of the prize-winners. It can take time. We used to get a great deal more mainstream fiction, especially crime fiction. Money for that has long since been reduced to a trickle.
What is more the local library does not choose most of what is put on the shelves. That is done by a process known as "central buying". Libraries in South Australia are required to get books through a process whereby books are chosen and distributed by a central committee. There are restrictions on what they can buy. Some books will never reach library shelves in South Australia because of these restrictions. I was told recently that one book, already published in the UK, was "not going to be published". What the librarian meant was that the book was not going to be published in Australia - and therefore it would be unavailable in our library system.
If you ask why you will be told that this is designed to protect the Australian publishing industry and Australian writers. The reality is that it does not protect either group. It merely makes books (on which we already pay a tax when bought here) more expensive. Is it any wonder that more Australians are buying books from the Book Depository, Fishpond and Amazon - at the expense of our independent bookshops.
Having had a little rant about that I will now get back to the business of wasting $45m. At the price that libraries can buy books that is about four million books. That does not even translate into one book for each Australian. If the government and others who put that money into the failed bid were asked to spend another $45m on libraries they would shake their heads and say we cannot afford it. We can spend $700m plus dollars "upgrading" an oval for a very small percentage of the population to use but we "need to reduce" the money spent on libraries.
This makes no sense to me.