So I read it and... It was one of those stories being passed around the internet. This time about a late librarian in America. He had left the university he worked at the not inconsiderable sum of $US4m. They apparently plan to spend one quarter of that on an electronic score board for their sports complex.
The person who showed me the article knew what my reaction would be of course. The money should have gone to the library.
In Downunder more people use libraries each week than go to the football - and Downunderites "love their football". Sport is a sort of religion in Downunder. There is Aussie rules, rugby and soccer to get them through most of the year with some cricket and tennis flung into the summer and some swimming on the side with golf added at intervals. Of course there are other things as well but those all seem to get a fair bit of television coverage. People get paid outrageous sums of money to play them at the "professional" level and the best of the best are treated like heroes.
None of that happens to libraries. They barely rate a mention. The people who work in them almost never get acknowledged. I remember in my school librarian days overhearing a parent ask, "Who's that?" The response was, "Oh that's just the librarian." The sports teacher was surrounded by anxious fathers.
In an institution of higher learning, a university, I would have thought that a library was considered sufficiently important to welcome any extra funds. It might not all be spent immediately - although all the librarians I know would put plans in place so that the money was spent.
Our local library actually needs to be considerably larger than it is. The services it can offer are being constrained by the space available. The library gets used...and used...and used. In the coming couple of months it will be even more crowded as some students try to find a quieter place to study. I know I'll prowl in and one of them will whisper to me, "Cat, can you have a look at this...?"
It was one of those students who asked me to read the article and tell him what I thought. He's doing his "research topic" on library use. It was his father's suggestion. His father works in one of the university libraries.
In Africa one tenth of that has bought an investment for a scholarship for one child at a time to finish secondary school. I doubt the first recipient even knows what an electronic scoreboard is. We hope that money will last some years.
Oh yes, I read the article and then I asked him,
"What did your Dad have to say?"
One million dollars would buy an awful lot of library, of knowledge, of scholarships. I wanted to swear too.