Friday, February 25, 2011
I have blogged before about the threat from the UK's delightful coalition Government to the Public Lending Right, the annual payment made to authors according to how many 'lends' a book gets from a library. I received my latest payment recently and very welcome it was too. My books seem to do well in libraries. This means I have a vested interest in saving libraries. Because forget the PLR, as that's merely gravy: many of Britain's libraries are under threat as a direct result of Government cuts. A campaign is now underway to try and save them. A Save our Libraries day earlier this month attracted a great deal of attention, and more protests are planned as the threat of cuts, in the dread name of 'efficiency,' loom larger.
As well as income, which is comparatively meagre, I also have a library to thank for switching me on to great literature. During my 'gap year' between school and university, instead of travelling the world like most young folk seem to do now, I ended up on the dole, working as Father Christmas and then as a cashier in a bank, Pudsey library played a vital role in alleviating my boredom and providing me with free access to the world of imagination. I wonder how many other millions of people over the years, skint and and at a loose end, have found solace or inspiration or escape in a library? To lose them is short-sighted and wrong, and everyone who is involved in books should rise up and do all they can to protect them, because they foster readers and writers, and without those what do we have?
Then there was the local studies section of Kensington and Chelsea library where I did much of the research that made up The Blood Detective. Without it, it would have been half the book. I doubt Kensington and Chelsea library, being a true blue Tory borough, is under threat, but many libraries out there with local studies collections are, so other authors, researchers and students will suffer. Libraries also give a community its focal point, a place to gather and meet. The death of libraries is just another part of the destruction of any concept of community.
I could go on, but others have put it far more eloquently. Philip Pullman for one. He gave a speech protesting about proposals to close 20 out of 43 libraries in Oxfordshire. Apologies for the length of this quote (you can read the full speech in its entirety here and you should, even if Oxfordshire and its libraries are and seem a very long way away) but it pretty much sums up not only what's so boneheaded about closing libraries to save money, but also what's going wrong with the whole book industry. Book shops are closing too, as we all know on here, mainly because, as far as the UK is concerned, the greedy ghost also told publishers that they could sell a lot of copies of books in huge supermarkets for £2. Of course, once people realised that, why the hell would they go to a bookshop, who can't afford to take that kind of hit, and buy a book for £6? Anyway, Pullman...
Dan - Friday
at 6:30 AM