Saturday, August 07, 2010

What is a Library for?

Silly question I know.
However I am learning afresh. I have just received a Library Card from the London Borough of Southwark. With it came a letter from the Council telling me what I can get from the library.
  • All the latest films on DVD
  • Music CDs of every description
Maybe I had joined blockbusters?
  • Free access to the internet and computers
  • Book discussion groups
  • Homework help
  • Baby and toddler sessions
I was beggining to despair, but no down at point 7
  • Books for all ages and interests
Look I know that libraries seem to feel a need to be relevant. But hold on a moment.
If I go to Blockbuster and hire, to take a film at random, say Veggie Tales: Sweetpea Beauty then it will cost me £5 for unlimited rentals for a month. So why are the precious pennies of council tax payers pretending to be able to compete with a vibrant and competitive market.
Since the demise of the Boots lending library there is no competition in the lending out of books.
Dammit they can corner the market.


Anonymous said...

This has less to do with libraries trying to corner the market, and more to do with them fighting for survival.
No-one borrows books from them anymore, or not enough. Why would they when a high proportion of society don't read at all, or not for leisure? And for those that do, Amazon and other heavily discounted sources of books make buying rather than the faff of borrowing very attractive.
In order to increase their client base and retain central finding, then, the libraries have had to expand their services so that the taxpayer will continue to fund their existence, and hence their expansion into more popular territories.


Anonymous said...

I have family who work in libraries, and can assure you that the staff despair at their new direction as much as you do.

Rural libraries are being used by the council to try and build a new community hub, in the absence of any organic hub such as Churches provided half a century ago. Apparently they mostly attract OAPs to the cafe- yes, cafe- in the middle of the library.

As has been said, how are libraries, which may or may not have that rare book you want (once tried to get a book out, turned out the county's only copy had wound up in a prison library, from which it couldn't be sent on in the future for some inexplicable reason; prisoners writing messages in invisible ink on page 19, perhaps) meant to compete with Amazon, that can almost certainly find that book for you right now for £2 from the comfort of your own home?

andy5759 said...

Might I suggest to those who wish to access books that they pay a visit to their local bowls club? Most clubs have a permanent book sale to help club funds. books are usually sold for as little as 25p. You will also find a loving home for all cast-offs.