800 public libraries are threatened with closure in the UK. A terrible thing for Escapologists, who often use public libraries a base of operations. To all of us – Escapologist or otherwise – public libraries are invaluable.
Ages ago, in the Idler, I wrote:
A good library can be a comfortable oasis amid the hubbub of an otherwise busy city and the best sort is host to everything the urban flaneur holds dear: peace and quiet, dog-eared books, crackly old jazz records, fascinating characters lurking in every corner and haphazard furnishings liberated from innumerable closed-down gentleman’s clubs. Today’s library directors are forced to go the extra mile to make these oases all the more appealing: these days the daily papers are laid out ready for you; access is granted to the digital delights of the Internet; librarians are getting younger and more attractive and it’s all absolutely free. Many public libraries are even installing coffee and tea facilities for their punters. No wonder Ray Bradbury described these as “birthing places of the universe”. All we need now are on-site tobacconists and somewhere to get some shut-eye and we need not ever bother going home.
I really don’t want the libraries to go. There are at least an encouraging number of people coming forward to do something about it. Activism is happening everywhere, from Twitter campaigns, to celebrity action, to full library occupations and shelf-runs.
Let’s show the authorities that we still love our libraries. Most of the threatened libraries will have special events coming up and petitions to sign, so do pop into your local library and ask how you can help.
I know some of our readers are librarians. If your libraries (threatened or otherwise) would like to stock New Escapologist, get in touch and I’ll send you some complementary issues.