Terry Deary vs Libraries?

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My local library growing up. A tiny world of imagination.

My two cents on Terry Deary and Libraries…

…because apparently I can’t resist chipping in. Having read some of the evidence, including Deary’s response to this open letter by Trevor Craig, I don’t believe he is against libraries. It’s a complicated issue and he has raised some important discussion, if in a more violent manner than I suspect he meant to.

I’m ashamed of the people sending him hate mail and threats and vitriol. It’s our right, if not our duty, to question our system and ensure it’s delivering the best  service it can for us (after all, looking around at this country right now, it clearly isn’t). I do believe the media picks and chooses what it quotes, and how it presents opinions. I suspect Deary has suffered from this and his words have come across sounding more blasting than intended. Maybe I want to believe this because his books were a fundamental part of my childhood (and, yes, I got some of them from the library).

I think part of the anger comes at the talk of money. Our society traditionally looks down on people discussing their monetary affairs in public, and I think the figures bouncing around make Deary seem insensitive, particularly to the more likely reader base at libraries – those who cannot afford to buy books.

What’s it to you?

This is roughly the conversation I had with my partner last night:

B: How many books do you and I read in a year between us?

S: Between 50-150

B: How many of those do we borrow from libraries?

S: One or two.

B: How many books do we buy every year?

S: Dozens. (A conservative estimate, I admit: we are serial book-buyers, of both the paper and ebook variety)

B: Now imagine we both lost our jobs, would we stop reading?

S: No.

B: Would we stop buying books?

S: Probably.

B: So where would we get them from?

S: The library.

And your point is?

My point is, I can weigh in on this subject if I want to. I can calmly say that I believe libraries need to combine with independent bookshops and community centres to form local learning and literacy hubs; creative spaces and courses; crèches and community groups; employability and self-esteem workshops; small scale lending or incentivised sales; discounts for volunteers. I think there are a lot of options. It’s not enough these days just to be a library in the traditional sense.

But my opinion doesn’t ring out because I’m not a famous writer, or a library worker, or someone who depends on libraries to improve my chances in life. I’m a fan of them, sure, I spent an awful lot of time in them growing up.

Whatever I or others need from them, I don’t believe anyone can say libraries are not necessary.

Literacy is arguably the most important skill in this country, the one that comes first. If I couldn’t afford to buy books for myself or my hypothetical children, where would I go? I’d go to the library.

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About sarahgracelogan

Sarah Grace is an itinerant scribbler and general layabout. She runs a writing group called CAKE.shortandsweet, because any form of procrastination from actual writing is always attractive to the serious author of refined taste. When not distracted by laser pens, Sarah Grace writes novels, short stories and flash fiction, poetry, stage scripts and screenplays. She has performed her work at Stirred Poetry, Bad Language and Tongue in Cheek Manchester. Her first publication, Humping the Boonies is a self-published chapbook available directly from the author, or from Travelling Man, Manchester. You can find more details about her ongoing projects, not to mention a selection of free stories up for grabs right here on her blog. https://sarahgracelogan.wordpress.com/about/ She also likes to talk about theatre, film, books, photography, and especially games and other things that involve collaborative storytelling. Sarah Grace likes feedback, in whatever form it comes.

4 comments

  1. You raise some good points. I did talk about the library crisis a few weeks ago on my own blog. Your thoughts would be very much appreciated… here

  2. Libraries are one of those council services that everyone can use. In some ways they are a throw-back to a more paternalistic era. They ought to be more bomb-proof in the current environment than others simply because of this but they aren’t.

    For me, growing up, they were essentail and even today when I probably borrow half a dozen books a year, I still think that they are important.

    This is what libraries meant to me: http://nolanparker.wordpress.com/2013/02/23/a-personal-history-of-libraries/

    It would be great if the web filled up with people doing the same just to show how important libraries are to us all.

  3. Hi Sarah, great post as always! And it’s because of posts like this one and the others, that Inion and I felt you were the perfect selection for the “Versatile Blog Award.” Just head on over to our blog for the details and congrats my friend!

    • Hi Ladies!

      Thank you for choosing me, I really appreciate that you thought of my blog! I hope you won’t mind if I don’t follow up and post about it – I’ve taken a decision not to post blog awards on here because they’re not relevant to my writing and feel a bit like chain letters, picking and choosing groups of friends. At the same time, it’s lovely to be chosen, so thank you both 🙂

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