Tuesday, 5 April 2011
Our local library
has been struggling for funds for several years now. Those of us who know the bookstock well have been aware that there are far fewer new books and those that have appeared are often cheap remainder stock. Our library is also part of a group of libraries within one council district. This has meant that the other move has been to shift books from one library to another in an effort to provide new reading material. I have no objections to the latter move. It makes sense and it is an inexpensive way of varying the book stock, particularly as much of the work was done by volunteers.I do however object to the failure to spend money on new books. South Australia is planning to spend $800million on an upgrade to the Adelaide Oval. This may yet fail. It has to go to a vote of members of the South Australian Cricket Association - and assorted hangers on. There are some who want it and others who do not. The problem for them appears to be having to share their hallowed ground with footballers more than they do now and losing "the Mound" and other things they hold dear. It is often said that South Australians are not good at accepting change or progress and there may be some truth in that. I also know that sport is an important part of Australian culture. I am not, apart from a mild interest in cricket, interested in sport. There is only one member of my family who shows any real interest in sport. I know sport is important. I know it is a way of keeping fit - if you play it. I fear it also produces couch-potatoes who prefer to watch sport in the isolation of their own homes. It requires nothing more than the ability to press a button on a remote control device for the television set. Libraries however are a different matter. More people use libraries than play sport. Apart from the frail elderly who use the Home Delivery service, people need to go to the library. They need to actively choose. They may interact with other people. They make borrow something they would never have considered because it is there on the new books/additions shelf. They may talk to someone or see an activity organised. Some people may even walk or ride a bicycle to the library. It is a much more active process than pushing the button on a remote control. If that vote to spend money on the upgrade of the Adelaide Oval fails I think the government should use some of their share to upgrade library stock in this state. If the vote fails my guess is that the government will still tell us there is no money available for libraries.