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A hard day at the lending library

Friday nights were swimming, junk food and library nights. My weekend started there …

In the week of my usual cut and fluff I see that a voucher site survey has concluded that we keep our hairdressers longer than our husbands (hurrumph! Could the same not be said about barbers and husbands?)

That questionable offering aside, I settled down into my long-term hairdresser’s padded chair of pampering, smoothed and opened the cover of my favourite design mag and devoured the Editor’s December Letter – whilst sipping my hot chocolate and tearing off pieces of almond croissant. Oh Yeah, I do it in style girlfriend!

Michelle Ogundehin has introduced me to some interesting discoveries (more of another time) but a letter she wrote, titled Borrowing Culture reminded me of some very fond childhood memories, both for myself and with the little giants.

The article was about, brace yourself – LIBRARIES! Albeit starting with la crème de la crème, Birmingham and its wrapped present architecture – then moving on to Brighton which seems to have more going on than a Fat Boy Slim download (what the **** is baby boogie doing in a library?!)

My local library isn’t the business model of either of these two literary Burberry equivalents, but at one time it was my regular Friday date night. Exhausted from the single-mother-style of childcare week, I moth flew to the light of its motherly cocoon. With the little giants aiming straight for the return desk and then to choose a visual feast (‘new books first, new books first!’), I could flick through a magazine (I’d never normally read) and contemplate the glass of red that waited patiently underneath its corked hat.

That was the way we were and back in the present, I smiled.

Michelle wrote sense. Why is it that these public service providers are being allowed to disintegrate into extinction? Why are the principles of commercial enterprise not being used for their non-commercial benefit?

I don’t think this is progress; it’s a lack of it! From what I see there’s no innovation, energy or motivation to encourage people to support my local library. No essential Wi-Fi to encourage people in. No use of social media to get out into the community and tell them what’s happening within the four walls. Is it so wall to wall busy that library staff can't sign a Social Media Policy and start socialising and assisting their job security? To be honest, in my local, things haven’t moved forward since those rainy, dark Friday night memories. Apart from the staff – who seem to have been unceremoniously dumped and replaced with some who aren’t the most diplomatic with their welcome greeting of ‘you’ve got a fine’ (LSH not me!).

Yes, I don’t support the local like I used to, but neither do the pensioners who were 9 am regulars on the 3 mornings that are no more. Or those who no longer have a need to book an hour slot at the PC. Nor those who know nothing of memories created, finger poised over smart phone, listening to a librarian read their little terrors a story they remember from their childhood.

So, Michelle, my response to you is, I believe the dwindling numbers of libraries is because they lack the energy and vision of your publication, or the ability to provide for the needs and requirements of their customer, like my hairdresser does.
If they did, then it is certain that the survey results would be unquestionable: Loyalty to local libraries last longer than marriages. Tick.

This post is dedicated to Sue, the librarian whose patience helped the little giants complete their Summer Reading Challenges.

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