Posts Tagged ‘Eric Pickles’

Libraries teach equality (via I Love LIbraries)

When I looked at Twitter this morning, I noticed an article from the Guardian doing the rounds of librarians’ and libraries’ Twitter accounts. The subject of said article? “Library protests are the domain of ‘luvvies’, Eric Pickles tells MPs“. Naturally enought, Mr Pickles’ position has been roundly condemned by librarians and library groups alike, but presumably we are all luvvies like Tristram Hunt, historian, broadcaster and Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central, at whom Mr Pickles’ comment was originally directed. I say that we take the word “luvvie” back from Mr Pickles, and that we show him exactly what a Library Luvvie can be.

Luvvies of the (library) world unite! We have nothing to lose but our communities!

To Mr Pickles, I say this: in dismissing the people fighting to keep public libraries in existence, you dismiss all library users, and ultimately, you dismiss whole communities. Because you are the appointed Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, I would ordinarily suggest that you must have made a mistake about what your role is in terms of communities. However, all the evidence presented by the actions of yourself and your fellow members of the Cabinet since election has made it tragically clear that instead of protecting and developing the services and institutions under your remit, you all set out to destroy them, in so doing destroying communities and their umbrella of British society.

In terms of your comments dismissing library campaigners, you very obviously know nothing at all about the people who use, work in, and fight for libraries. Have you ever spoken to a librarian, to a child learning to read, to somebody housebound and dependant on a mobile library service? I would recommend that you start to speak to these groups and more, to learn about communities, and to understand the importance of library buildings and services therein.

Take librarians, for example. Despite the stereotypes, we don’t usually enter librarianship because we enjoy reading or love books. It helps, of course, but we don’t spend hours reading our own collections during work hours. We provide services, and we do so because we want to help people find a book that they love, or to do their homework in a safe and warm space, or to find out more about a medical condition with which they have been diagnosed. We make it possible for parents of young children and babies to come to social and educational events with their babies. The parents get some adult company, and the babies/toddlers similarly learn to socialise. They also learn literacy and numeracy, and “to develop their concentration, co-ordination and comprehension skills through the use of books, songs, finger rhymes, nursery rhymes and poetry” (quoted from Westminster Libraries website).

I am a librarian. I am a library protestor. You would call me a luvvie. I went into librarianship after years working in the IT and computer games industries. My roles in these sectors were all about helping people find information, resources, and solutions, and librarianship was a natural next step, which gave me more, and better, opportunities to help people educate themselves, find their next favourite book, have a conversation, or learn new life skills. More recently, I have become very interested in reading as a medically-diagnosed treatment for illnesses such as depression, and have plans to educate myself in bibliotherapy to be able to help library users still further. These sentences don’t even scratch the surface of what I know and love about libraries and librarianship; I have written several blog posts on the subject and given presentations to librarianship students to help in their training. I use several public libraries weekly at least, because they help me to economise as I continue to read voraciously, and to support them.

My story is just one story among millions, told by individual librarians to inspire others, to develop our field, and to correct misapprehensions such as those held most dangerously by yourself and your Cabinet colleagues. Read about one day in our various librarian lives here, and find out how and why we became librarians here. Will you still call us luvvies then?

Choose your future. Choose your life. Choose your library.
(By Phil Bradley)

We are just one group of protestors among a much larger movement – local, nationwide, worldwide. Start with us, and see what you need to learn about what you dismiss so crudely. Then I’ll introduce you to library users who also protest to save the services they need and love. Do you think you could call a toddler or a housebound old woman luvvies? Do you think you could account to them for the loss of their libraries in any way that could make sense?

Your dismissal of library protestors as “luvvies” has all the sophistication of a primary school bully who attacks what he does not understand, does not use, and quite possibly fears. Libraries and librarians are conduits to enjoyment, individuality, opportunity and understanding. They educate the local community, the nation, the world. Speaking up in favour of all these wonderful benefits does not make a person a luvvie, it makes a person a part of and a voice for the community. You are supposed to give these voices a platform on which to be heard; you are not supposed to dismiss them with base mockery.

This post was brought to you by CPD23 Thing 20: The Library Routes Project


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