Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The year of the book?

One of the highlights of last year was joining a library. It was not the first time I had been a member of a library and have usually had a card since a young boy. But moving around London in the last few years denied me the motivation to settle down enough to get a library card. That changed this year and it has been a great source of not only books but also occasionally advice.

With that in mind it seemed a great shame to read The Independent’s article about the closure of so many libraries this year. It seems that investment is lacking. But part of the problem must also be the identity crisis that most libraries seem to be going through. Are these temples of learning that are open to all? Or are they cheap alternatives to Internet cafes and Blockbuster film rental stores? No doubt there is a happy balance between the two but even my local library seems to fall on the wrong side of that tightrope.

Let’s hope that if the government is serious about 2008 being the year of the book that the investment in libraries, and in particular providing books for the public, will improve this year.


CresceNet said...

Gostei muito desse post e seu blog é muito interessante, vou passar por aqui sempre =) Depois dá uma passada lá no meu site, que é sobre o CresceNet, espero que goste. O endereço dele é http://www.provedorcrescenet.com . Um abraço.

Lisa said...

As an avid reader and a librarian in the US, I am very interested in this very topic. It seems a sticky problem for libraries. On the one hand, you want to remain true to the mission of libraries as 'information providers' and the 'poor man's university' and reach out to a the younger generations who are used to the Internet, social networking sites, video games and so much more. Libraries and librarians have traditionally not done an adequate job of marketing themselves and their services. There is so much more that can be obtained through the knowledge and expertise of a trained librarian that can't be found using Google. I think that's why many libraries are opening coffee shops in an effort to bring in the younger generation. But, they must be careful not to lose sight of what they do best -- offer access to and evaluation of information of all kinds.

Have a Healthy and Happy 2008!

simon quicke said...

Lisa, Thanks for the comment. I don't envy you it is a tightrope that the Libraries are walking. What concerns me more than the diversification into other areas is the apparent restriction in choice when it comes to books. My experience is that more computers and DVDs have come at the cost of some more books. Hopefully more money will be ploughed into Libraries this year.