Posts Tagged ‘Human rights’

… for a week, anyway.

Voices for the Library

Voices for the Library

World domination needs must start small. Starting on Monday 13 May – just two days to go! – I will be Taking over Twitter through @voiceslibrary.

The Twitter Takeover began in the week leading up to National Libraries Day on Saturday 9 February, 2013. I was one of seven libraries to take on a day of tweeting through the Library Voices account, the purpose of the exercise being to fight against the closures of libraries and the replacement of librarians with volunteers by showing what we do and how we and our places of work are valuable, essential parts of society. The need to demonstrate this has not gone away since National Libraries Day; in fact, it is more important than ever before, as cuts continue and deepen.

As a regular user of public libraries whose local library has been replaced with a volunteer-run book-lending service, I only get frustrated every time I go in there. The lack of training and experience shows in every interaction. I look at what the service ought to be, I remember the wonder of the local library and librarians who helped bring me up (that is how often I was there), and I experience what this other place is now, and I realise that we need to fight harder than ever to stop this becoming the norm.

The more people that think about what libraries mean to them, and the more people who share those feelings, and act upon the need to keep them alive, both now and in the future, are a crucial part of Voices for the Library. Just look at the several testimonies to libraries on the website. This excerpt from Carola’s story of Orkney Libraries is typical, and shows how essential libraries are to the past, present, and future:

Carola's testimony, on Voices for the Library

Carola’s testimony, on Voices for the Library

I’m still working out my full plan for the week. I will spend some time introducing you all to my library world, but that’s not enough. This week is not really supposed to be about me. I need to talk about libraries and what they have done for me as a reader and researcher, how they have helped to bring me this far, and how I want to make sure that they are around to take me as far as I can go. I need to talk about how libraries and librarians must be there to help current and future generations on their path into and inside the library.

I hope to see you all on Twitter from Monday morning onwards.


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Even if you don’t want to stand up for the rights of children to read fairytales, and/or for guns to be banned or made more difficult to own, please think of the fictional grandmothers being callously deprived of wine. It’s a small pleasure in a dangerous world where one may literally be eaten by the wolf at the door.


The text: “One child is holding something that’s been banned in America to protect them. Guess which one?”

Some background: The Charles Perrault version of Little Red Riding Hood, the one that was banned by two California school districts, was controversial not because both the grandma and the little girl are eaten by the wolf by the end of the story, but  because – as the Christian Science Monitor notes,  “one of the refreshments for her grandmother that Little Red Riding Hood carried in her basket was wine.” Yes, parents evidently had an issue with the depiction of the alcoholic beverage…



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Dragonfly emerging from its chrysalis (via Dreamstime Stock Images)

Dragonfly emerging from its chrysalis (via Dreamstime Stock Images)

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Alfred Lord Tennyson, ‘Ring out, wild bells’ (part of In Memoriam), 1850. (more…)

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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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Speak up for Libraries (source: Speak up for Libraries website)

It is with fabulously good timing that I write my response to CPD23 Thing Sixteen: Advocacy, speaking up for the profession and getting published, as yesterday I received confirmation of my place at this Saturday’s Speak up for Libraries conference. If you cannot attend the conference itself, you can follow our discussions on Twitter at the hashtag #SUFLConf. (more…)

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Malala Yousafzai, 13 years old and seen by the Taliban as a threat

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about a small part of this weekend’s touristy adventures. Today, my parents have headed home, and I am sitting at the table, replete, tired and not really motivated to write about anything today. But just ten minutes ago, I watched on the news as Malala Yousafzai was put on a plane to the United Kingdom for urgent treatment that will hopefully save her life. (more…)

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