Monday, 13 May 2013

Radcliffe Library

I was very saddened when I went there the other week to find out that this library is ear-marked for closing or downsizing. Librarians will be made redundant. The book stock will disappear. The lovely old building will be used for something else.
It seems such a shame.  I can walk to it from my house – admittedly a bit of a trek and through the woods. But I was looking forward to that when I retired and got my dog.
I’ve filled out the consultation survey. I’ve said how important the library is to the local community. Now it seems I still need to argue with the politicians.  
A local councillor was due to come and answer questions that morning. S/he didn’t show.  Did they know that I and another stroppy, grumpy old woman were waiting for them and they couldn’t face us?
The place is always vibrant. There is always something going on. “The children form the local primary school come in together and choose their books,” said one of the librarians. “They would never be able to do that normally.” They certainly won’t if the nearest library is Prestwich.
I guess I’ll drive there to get my books. I can. But what of the old-age pensioners without transport and the young mums stuck at home all day? It’s not the same, bundling your little ones on to the bus. The fares aren’t cheap either.
Ironically, the day before I heard this news, a local company pulled all of its buses off the roads. It couldn’t afford to pay its insurance. No library, then and no bus to take you to the next one.
I’m forever grateful for the excellent library in the town where I grew up. I don’t think I’d be a writer and university lecturer now if it hadn’t have been for that wonderful collection of books – Enid Blyton and her Famous Five to start with, then stories about young women finding their way in life and finally books in French and German as I studied these subjects for A-level.    
Later, I enjoyed taking my own children to the library almost as much.
Some say it’s all different now, that young people have greater access to books without going to the library.  I’m not so sure. Time is limited at school and other ways of obtaining books cost money. The library still has its place.   

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