Friday, 9 December 2011

Our library service recently went through

the rather pointless exercise of swapping books around from one library to another. I need to explain here that the library service is run by the local council. There are two libraries and a "home library service" intended for use by the housebound. Other councils have a similar arrangement.
The books in both libraries appear on the same catalogue. If you want something from the other physical library which is not in the physical library you use you can ask for it to be brought to your physical library or you can go to the other physical library and fetch it. Books can be returned to either library. There is also a van which does a delivery between the physical libraries just after lunch each day.
Of course there are always people who are not aware of these things so the idea of swapping the books around probably seemed like a good one. There would, the library service argued, be new reading matter for everyone at very little cost to the council. It was a cost-cutting exercise. There would be no need to spend so much money on new books.
And that is precisely what has happened. There have been some new books of course. Not even the council believes they can get away without buying any new books. They have even bought a few books by the most popular authors but lesser known authors are not getting their books on the shelves. Non-fiction is "remainder" or donations. I found out yesterday that, as I suspected, the patchwork books I had been reading were donations from a deceased estate. Their previous owner would be pleased to think they were being used but alarmed by the sad state of library finances.
I am deeply concerned by the state of our libraries. They are an essential part of the community but they are not recognised as such. It is just not possible to buy every book you want to read. Libraries are also a resource for the things you did not know you wanted to read. Readers need libraries. Writers need readers. Writers need libraries.

3 comments:

Tony said...

Sad to hear that your libraries are not up to much. I'm very impressed with our local library group, and I can get almost anything by reserving it on the internet, even if the book is held in country Victoria :)

Frances said...

Same in regional NSW, Tony.
I think our town library is superb, and we can borrow any book in the NSW state library quite easily.

catdownunder said...

I do not want to give you the wrong impression - we can borrow anything if we are prepared to pay for the cost of getting it to us. Many people are unaware of this. There has however been a huge cut in the amount being spent on new material and new material is the life-blood of public libraries.