Wednesday, 1 August 2007

The people of Hampshire vs their libraries

Tim Coates - fresh from claiming sole credit for the departure of key individuals from MLA (if only he could direct his awesome magic powers toward, I don't know, curing cancer) - points to an article on Hampshire libraries.

Well, maybe the cuts to the service *are* being made because of a smaller-than-average grant from central government. Who knows? What interests me is that the article reports a petition of 12,000 people calling for a rethink on the Council's reorganisation of libraries.

12,000 is a lot of people. Except, of course, when you put it in context: there are 1.26 million people in Hampshire, discounting the UAs of Southampton and Portsmouth. That's 0.95% of the population who disagree with the proposals. So it's either a non-issue (perhaps even a good idea? I certainly don't know enough about the situation to have an opinion), or those opposing the changes need to communicate their concerns more effectively. Diminishing the quality of a public library service is undoubtedly A Bad Thing, but people need to care about it happening in order for it to have any real meaning.

The article also mentions Unison's campaign to defend the public library service. They've got a little man made out of books as a mascot. And he's wearing a mortar board, also made out of books. That's exactly the image we need to promote: librarians as intellectually superior, bookish freaks. I, for one, welcome our freaky book-man overlords.

UPDATE: Coates' post claiming responsibility for the departure/retirement of those MLA chaps has vanished mysteriously. It was there the other day, honest. But I know you trust me, because I'm a librarian.