I’M the first to admit that I rarely use my local library. If I want a book I’ll download it to my iPad or Kindle from the comfort of my settee. Occasionally, perhaps if I’m bound for foreign shores, I’ll buy a book. I could probably get my hands on Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, and indeed other penny dreadfuls, from my undoubtedly uncool and bespectacled librarian, but the truth is that option never even crosses my mind.
That said, when I’m hungry I will generally go to a shop to buy something. I know all too well that I am fortunate to have the means to do so.
I am not one of the people who have fallen on hard times, who has little choice but to turn to a Food Bank. I am not of an age nor disability that means I need meals on wheels. I can fend for myself.
But not everyone can. One day, I might rely on all of the above social ‘services’ to give me anything even remotely resembling a ‘quality of life’.
So does that mean that because I might not be able to afford a meal in the future that I shall starve? No, of course not.
And so I begin to make my point: Sheffield’s libraries are under threat. We can’t afford them, apparently.
Oh, and if you’re a well-meaning community champion who is willing to try to keep your local library open out of the good of your own heart – you’ll be CHARGED to do so, not thanked, nor rewarded.
Libraries are not profit-making businesses. Libraries are catalysts for learning; for the young, the old, the deprived and the affluent. They’re a social service, ultimately.
But not in and around Sheffield, they’re not. What they have become is a political football, booted from pillar to post to score points.
And don’t get me started on the fact that had Ikea and Next been allowed to flourish, the business rates alone would have paid to save our libraries, time and again.
Do we really want to live in the city with no libraries? If we don’t act now, it will be our biggest mistake.