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Kill the freaking libraries!

January 13, 2013

Here in the UK, there was a recent (by which I mean, in my lifetime) hoo-ha about the government cuts affecting the local libraries. I don’t recall the outcome of that particular debate, as it is not particularly interesting to me. I know how I feel about the matter; cull the fuckers.

Have you noticed how few people actually read printed books? Everyone I know who likes to read has bought a kindle. Those few who still read paper like to own their books, or else are so literary that the books they want to read can’t be found in any library smaller than your average shopping mall.

If you’ve ever been into a small library in your life, you’ll know that they devoted entirely to murder mysteries, teen romance, travel guides and if you’re lucky, audio books of classics.

Let’s take these in turn. Murder mysteries. What’s wrong with you people?! Aren’t they showing enough Agatha Christie on the television to suit your morbid needs? At least it’s over in about a half hour, all wrapped up nice and neat. Plus, you can do the ironing and you don’t have to focus too hard. Anyone who wants to argue that a mystery novel is more enriching than a mystery television show has obviously never picked up a mystery novel.

Next, teen romance. Justin Bieber calendars are single handedly stealing the niche. After all, why read when you can look at pictures and fantasise? When I was a teen all I read was my school set texts (on a good day) which were handed out for free at school anyway, the Harry Potter series and Goosebumps, for some inexplicable reason.

Whilst I would not particularly recommend the latter, Harry Potter is decent and as I understand it, this Twilight thingyamybob is a bit popular. People usually buy those books rather than borrow them and make them a much loved member of the family, with well thumbed pages and patches of dribble over the drivel.

On the subject of drivel, you’re not going to be able to buy 50 Shades of Grey in your local, most of which don’t have an adult section. Sorry. By the way, in case you’re bothered at all by this… People often wank to erotica. You would be borrowing a book that may contain traces of wank juice. Just a thought.

Then there’s travel guides. Is it me, or is it entirely pointless to borrow a travel guide from a library? If you have a photographic memory, read it right there and then. Otherwise, you’ll have to take it with you in order for it to have any use. I don’t understand why you would want the stress of an impending library due date on your holiday. What if you lose it? Haven’t you heard of the internet? It’s available internationally and you won’t have to trudge through a glossary.

For those of you born post-internet, a glossary is a sort of rudimentary search engine that actually requires you, the reader, to look through a finite list of terms that may possibly relate to what you want to find, provided it is under the general umbrella subject of the book you’re reading. A travel guide of Denmark is probably not going to redirect you to naked ladies, unless you like them made out of stone. Sorry again.

Lastly, audio book “classics”. I put classics in inverted commas because I am not completely in agreement about my library’s definition of classic. I could not find any Charles Dickens and though there was some Virginia Woolf (hardly easier to listen to than to read), I am not so sure I would have put The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time up there. Forget the classic part, why is it an audio book? It’s the shortest, simplest novel imaginable. Incidentally, if you do have the audio book version, you might also enjoy the audio version of Elephant Wellyphant.

Every single time, and I mean every single time, I want to actually find a book I might want to read, I cannot find it in my library. I really do have a better chance of finding it in my Dad’s bedroom, being as it is a small, selective library with a bed. There’s also porn in there. See, libraries? That’s how it’s done.

We have all these things scattered around when the tax payers’ money could be rerouted into transport so that people who are hard up can travel to one of the bigger, better libraries and get a decent selection. Only then will they find something worth reading and get the decent education some of us lack through no fault of our own. Improving the transport would solve a number of problems of finance, not just libraries; a parent could take their kids to a play area, do the shopping, get some reading done and take care of a whole host of other things that need taking care of and aren’t catered for by your average small town.

Quite apart from anything else, libraries here aren’t up to speed with the 21st century. There are very few computers, limited internet access, no pay-per-use or free phones. Some have fax machines, which are limited in their use.

Even easy things like seats are in short supply and they are not kitted with silent areas – it’s a bit redundant putting the children’s section over the other side of the building to the adult area when the whole place is about 20 square yards in size. You can hear the little fuckers a mile off as it is. I would never want to say children should not be allowed in libraries, but they do tend to scare off everyone else except the odd deaf pensioner.

In short, libraries of this type just aren’t very good. If we want people to use them, they need to be better. Think of all the things you could do with them; they could have a post office / courier service, a job hunting service, a general advice board, passport photo booths, a place to help with filling out tax returns, particularly for the self-employed who have a tendency to frequent libraries when they don’t hire or create office spaces… They could have function rooms and projectors for rehearsing or showing presentations and scanners for turning paper documents into digital ones should be standard.

A library should be a general hub of information, communication, community, work and technology and most of all should work towards merging these things for public convenience. It’s not a book store that gives away free shit because the suckers don’t have the time to chase you down.

By far the most usage they get is from uni students whose subject choice is so obscure, it can’t even be found on Wikipedia. Uni students have their own libraries, often on campus, that specifically cater to them. These places are a treat because they have book searches and the shelves are organised and sensibly categorised, the way a library should be.

Electronic check in/out services and digital versions of the books are often available. They also do a good line in anti-virus software and the attached student services etc. are great at finding information and sorting things out for you. You might now be thinking: “Not my university…” but before you reply to that effect, you should think about how that reflects on you…

Small libraries are a drain because they don’t match people’s needs. If they were general community centres that offered people a free place to be, serving food, open late and hosting charitable clubs and events (particularly for our wayward youth who have nowhere to be other than home, school or the local park) that would be another story. The trouble is, they really aren’t large enough. It would be better if we could have fewer, better facilities that were easier to get to, catered to the needs of more people and took up less overall space – enough for demand.


From → Leftism

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