Monday, 12 April 2010

Libraries Lack Lustre

We joined the library in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham when we moved to the Midlands a few years ago. The staff in the Children's library there worked hard at setting up numerous schemes to keep children enthusiastic about reading. Such as 'Stories from the Web', various book clubs, author talks etc. My two home educated children benefited greatly from their input particularly during their informative years. Children addressed all library staff there by their first names. They enjoyed the warm, yet well-ordered atmosphere.
We moved house again and visiting this particular library became a 34 mile round trip for us. But to this day we drive over to renew our reading/study matter. As back there, they continue to make no bones about us having a three month lend on books. I know this isn’t a necessity for many, but for us the three week book lend is pretty useless, as, since the children have grown older, they are working/or have worked on one, two, sometimes three, home study courses that span over a two year period. Therefore they require books for wider reading purposes or for continuous reference and not just for bedtime reading. I've debated our need for longer lending with a couple of libraries within my locality but they have remained inflexible on the matter. Therefore, I continue to take a big bag over to Brum when the due date comes around.
The community card issue is the main gripe I have with the library service, but I know of others too, who have wrangled with librarians over red tape, for example: a friend took her little niece in to a Staffordshire library to join her but wasn’t allowed to proceed with the application without first gaining parental consent. And I’ve known other librarians also be nit picky about what counts as recreational or educational fiction and so put a cap on fictional books being lent at any one time.
I have often found librarians to be rigid and unfriendly.
And I wonder why some public sector workers dislike working with the public so much. There are exceptions of course, but many contribute little to maintaining community cohesion.
The library is becoming archaic and does not appeal to young people. Libraries occupy many unique and central buildings with in our towns and cities. I’ve not, personally, noticed much to be different around areas close to where I live. But I know some local authorities’ are making efforts to be more imaginative to improve libraries and to attract new audiences in.
It should be a priority to give the library service a dusting down and to quickly find ways of embracing the 21st century, if they are to remain in our communities and not disappear forever.

Good Morning. I've come to return the book I borrowed.
Finished already?
Oh, I couldn't put it down. Have you got anything new?
Ha Ha! Not since yesterday.
That's all right. I'll borrow . . . . . this one!
That one? But you've read it twice!

Belle from Beauty and the Beast

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