For all those councils who claim we cannot afford Public Libraries, and on whom the riposte 'We cannot afford an ignorant society' falls on deaf ears, what if we Library lovers were to change tack and argue that libraries are not only cost neutral but SAVE councils money in social benefits?
Amazing government report Libraries Deliver here chock full of handy graphics to support the argument. All you need is to put in an FOI request to find out what your Public Library costs to run in relation to other services and you can develop your Library case. If you are lucky enough to have a Carnegie Library, this was a gift from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie to the people of your area. It may even be on donated land (as here in Hove), so your Library is off to a head start in terms of cost effectiveness if it was donated and has already stood for many decades (ours is currently celebrating its 110th anniversary).
A fantastic blog post here by Librarian Dawn Finch on what constitutes a Public Library and why we should accept no substitutes.
Personally I think in a society where we have seldom seen such social disenfranchisement, reversal of social mobility for the poorest, free education increasingly relegated to the past and safe non-commercial public spaces disappearing at a rate of knots, not to mention rising mental health issues, we have seldom needed our Public Libraries more. The time is ripe for their renaissance and the dispelling of the myth that the online world has replaced real life and the human need for social interaction.
Not all of us are suited to living in the 'contactless' world designed and increasingly controlled by the geeks of Silicon Valley. Many of us remain stubbornly human with human needs and our Libraries really are community lifelines as the Tsar of Loneliness Minister Tracey Couch, should be acknowledging as part of her remit.
There is no more fulsome ticker of a council's equality, diversity and inclusivity commitment boxes than a Public Library, aside from their legal obligations under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act.
I now include some inspiring quotes on Libraries and reading below (some old and some contemporary) but all timeless in their message. We need books and we need Public Libraries.
"A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert." - Andrew Carnegie
"A reader lives a thousand lives before they die. The individual who never reads lives only one." - George Martin
"A library is the only single place you can go to learn something new, be comforted, terrified, thrilled, saddened, overjoyed, or excited all in one day. And for free". – Amy Neftzger
"A Library is a place vibrating with ideas" – Nancy Lodge
"Without the Library you have no civilisation" – Ray Bradbury
"The Library is like a candy store where everything is free" – Jamie Ford
"Who doesn’t love a library? It is a place you can go in any town and discover the world." – Pat MacEnulty
"When I enter a library, I feel I’ve come home." – Barbara Wright
"A Library is a hospital for the mind" – Anon
"Knowledge is free at the Library – just bring your own container" - Anon
"I always felt if I could get to a Library, I would be ok." - Maya Angelou
"Whatever the cost of our Libraries, the price is cheap compared to an ignorant nation." – Walter Cronkite
"A book is a device to ignite the imagination" – Alan Bennett
"The Library is my cathedral" – Barbara Bretton
"A Library Is not a luxury, but one of the necessities of life" – Henry Ward Beecher
"Ordinary people have big TV’s, extraordinary people have big Libraries" - Anon
"I have found the most valuable thing in my purse is my Library card". - Laura Bush
"Having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a Library card!" - Anon
"The one thing you absolutely have to know is the location of the Library" – Albert Einstein
"It was the kind of Library he had only read about in books"– Alan Bennett
"Library doors are a gateway to anywhere." – Anon