Following on from my previous posts, I found this speech transcript that Philip Pullman gave in defence of Oxfordshire libraries. It's good to see writers getting involved in politics, and Pullman is bang on the money.
He criticises a "bidding culture" that comes from a love of markets, and the market belief that anything that doesn't make profit isn't worth supporting. This has long been a gripe of mine about the music and publishing business. The business aspect dominates artistic side, rather than nurtures it. I'll stop myself from going off into a rant about Simon Cowell right now. But I will say that when I read Pullman's words I was nodding my head in agreement.
Pullman argues that libraries do not exist for money - they exist for people who love reading to borrow a book free. They encourage a love of reading in children whose parents can't afford to buy lots of books. They breed future writers like Philip Pullman, as well as teachers, academics, even politicians.
Imagine now, a world without libraries. Instead we have High Streets of Tesco selling only bestsellers, possibly a Waterstones with a limited stock of History books, and if you're lucky, an independent bookshop. As much as I love bookshops, where would a young person with very little money get a copy of "Brave New World" or "Jane Eyre"? Where, other than a library?
What would happen to the population, if the libraries closed? Less books mean a less enlightened citizenry, the public will believe whatever television tells them and the lessons of history and literature will be ignored. If you want to know what the lessons books can teach us are, browse my book reviews.
Unfortunately, as money doesn't appear to appreciate either love or knowledge, we're in for a long fight to protect culture.