Books are ace. In fact, put down your computer RIGHT NOW, shut it off, make a cup of tea, and read a book. There. You’re instantly a better person. Who is either disobedient or not reading this.
A Beestonian Bibliophile is rather blessed: as well as a dedicated Oxfam Bookshop (as well as many more charity shops) ; we have Beeston Bookshop, which throws up some cut-price gems; a bloke who sets out a little stall on Sundays selling battered, old books, including a rather wonderful ‘Daily Mail Book For Boys’ from 1965 I bought last year (time to find some casual racism inside: 14 seconds), and a Tony Blackburn Annual from 1971 that is creepier than anything Stephen King has set to print.
But for those who prefer to just borrow books, the library is the place. And we are blessed with a great one, which I’m ashamed to say I only joined a few months ago despite living right near it for ages. I kick myself for this tardiness, for I have been missing out: the shelves are crammed with wonder, you can rent DVDs at a fraction of the price of Blockbuster, sit and use the IT resources, and of particular interest to me, peruse the massive local history resources for entertaining stories of Beestonia’s Perennial Weirdness. The staff are informed, friendly and if you do want to take out a Dan Brown novel, won’t judge: robots with bar code readers do all that stuff now. Everyone is welcome: many people find information on their rights, public services and other invaluable advice inside.
It’s a wonderful place, a real centre of community. So, naturally, Kay Cutts is swinging her axe at it.
To be fair, it’s not just Cutts, it goes higher than that. Jeremy ‘cough’ Hunt has decided that libraries could be ran by volunteers instead of trained staff: here’s a copy of the Dewey System, here’s some training on how to say ‘Shhhhh’ effectively, and you’re in. This totally discredits the job, seeing it as little more than a glorified WHSmith clerk. Utterly wrong. It’s a skilled, often challenging position, massively more demanding than asking if you’d like a half-price slab of Dairy Milk with your Nottingham Post.
I’m all for volunteering: I plan to do some myself if I still don’t find a job, but when it’s used as an excuse for slashing budgets, then no. The real reason , as this government’s/ County Council’s policies so often are, is ideological. Libraries have a whiff of socialism about them: communal places, giving power and education for free, a solid presence. The Right don’t like this, in the same way they hate the CAB, public transport, the BBC…. if they can’t squeeze some cash out of it, then its useless to them. So Beeston (and Inham Nook) Library have very uncertain futures, with book budgets slashed, opening times reduced and maybe, like 250 libraries nationally in the last few months, closed altogether.
But I’m not going to fly off into a rant, these are dark days and one has to focus, then fight back. If you are not happy about the way the libraries are being treated, here’s what to do. On THURSDAY 20th JAN there is a public meeting being held at COLLEGE HOUSE JUNIOR SCHOOL. It starts at 7.30pm and will run to 9pm, if you can attend, please do so. If you can’t, but would like to do something, then have a gander here: http://nottssos.org.uk , or contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
Erm, a humorous finish…ermmm, support the campaign and stay in my good books. Will that do?
NB: If anyone is under the impression Im supporting a campaign to keep the Library Restaurant open on Wollaton Road, I’m not, as it seems to be doing pretty well themselves.
As a bi weekly visitor to Beeston Library, and member since the late 1970’s, I for one will be there. An important local resource and somewhere to go if it’s raining.
Start a capaign, anything is possible!!
It’s not about cuts. It’s about a concerted effort to keep the great unwashed poor and ignorant. Cut libraries for people who can’t afford to buy books, cut EMA for people who can’t then afford to go to college, raise tuition fees so that poor people are discouraged from going to university and slash public services which are disproportionately delivered to the disadvantaged and vulnerable.
But who can possibly say they’re surprised? The country’s being run public schoolboys in the interests of their rich cronies and supporters. The whole government is just one big gentleman’s club… and the likes of you and I aren’t ever going to be members.
Well done, Beestonia; I quit agree! [blows dust off library card; double-checks it’s still Where It Was]
And if you think your local library is just full of seriously dodgy men, old drunks and pee-pee kids you’d be wrong (… that’s the *City* Library).
Use it or lose it! Loan or Groan! x
Cheers, and nice to see you in the Guardian magazine the other week!