It’s been a while since I updated this blog, but having just returned from a trip to my local library, I felt compelled to write this post.
As a child the library was a frequent friend, my Mum took me regularly to South Norwood library to loan books, attend story time and go to children’s events and I loved it. Right up until becoming a (too cool for books) teenager, I enjoyed reading and as such, visiting the library. Now I know times are changing, e-books are replacing traditional paperbacks, and more people are downloading content and reading magazines and newspapers on-line than buying them or checking them out at the library, but I felt such a deep sorrow when I walked into Fleetwood library.
Now Fleetwood has got what you’d probably describe as a ‘deprived’ population, with a high percentage of those people on the lowest incomes (pensioners, single parents, unemployed, minimum wagers) but you’d think that would be an incentive to empower and educate the local population by providing decent facilities? I’m also well aware of the cut backs happening up and down the country, and I understand that libraries are taking a big hit (I wish I had some decent data here to back up these insights) but still, when you go to a library, generally one assumes you will find books? Not at Fleetwood Library.
It seems as though the library does a good job of catering for those who are it’s daily/weekly visitors; pensioners. Half of the first floor is taken up with books about wars, and romantic fiction and tales of seamen past, and that’s lovely, if you’re drawing a pension and saving on electricity by reading instead of watching TV (the other half coincidently is the children’s section). However, when I search the library catalogue for ‘ethics’ and get no results, for ‘computing law’ and ‘IT legislation’ and get no results; alarm bells ring.
A search for ‘trust computer’ returned but one result, a DVD entitled ‘Trust’ directed by David Schwimmer… need I say more? Following a thorough (all of 2 minutes to check 3 shelves) search of the woeful ‘Computers’ section and a cursory glance at ‘Psychology'; including such gems as ‘How to tell if you’re Psychic’ and a book on dowsing I gave up. I felt such despair for the people of Fleetwood, that all their local library can offer on computing is tips on how to use an iPod, and ‘Internet for the elderly’.
On the flip side to the horrendous experience of trying to find a book in a library (I know!) the staff there were extremely helpful, despite being in high demand and they’ve brought themselves into the 21st century by installing self-service computers where you can check out and return books. What I’d rather they’d spent that money on though is books! Both for the library and the people who go there in search of advice, information or something more than stories about fishermen.
The only upside to this whole experience, was allowing an old man to show me how to use the self-service machine. He looked thoroughly pleased. So much for having a degree in IT.