The library provides books which provide a backdrop to our psyche and normal identity, in 868 A.D. The Diamond Sutra became the first printed book to come out of the press and it is no surprise it was a book about belief (The text challenges the common belief that inside each and every one of us is an immovable core, or soul—in favour of a more fluid and relational view of existence.). However, as the whole population gained access to education and thus the ability to read, and slowly over time ‘leisure time’ became accessible by the majority and not just the limited echelons of the very rich, so reading became a national past-time, and people started writing stories down for posterity, which had previously been verbatim and fireplaces or bedtime for children
Sion Coin, The Guardian Booklist editor, said:
“You can tell a lot about a country from how it treats its libraries and its authors…”
Across the UK, we see libraries being closed, hours reduced for those left operating, and full-time staff cut or replaced by volunteers under the guise ‘if you want a library in your community, then volunteer and run it!’
Libraries for so many have provided a refuge for people with limited access to resources and the ability to attend schools, colleges, and universities during COVID, and other times. The Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) facilities (in both town and rural areas) have been decimated, indeed we no longer have a WEA in Northern Ireland.
The question is ‘How do we want to be remembered in our future?’ The generation who not only destroyed the economy, but the planet and its resources, and also the one that forgot about its people and the need for our libraries.