Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Library closures

An interesting read this morning in the Independent. An article by Andrew Grice states that it has emerged that American firms could take over the running of libraries in Britain. LSSI, an American firm which manages 13 public libraries across the US, has set itself a target to manage libraries in eight British local authorities by the end of the year & to capture 15% of the market within five years. Libraries cld house coffee shops & bring in self-scanning technology. Ministers say they are relaxed about having ‘a Starbucks in the library’ if that keeps libraries open. Nearly 400 are threatened with closure, a figure that could rise to 800 by the end of the year. UK firms will also bid for library contracts.

So should American firms be running our libraries? Should they be privatised in this way? This is what the American Library Assoc’s Roberta Stevens had to say: ‘[private-sector firms] cannot guarantee the same level of transparency. Local authorities have to be absolutely clear on the terms of contract when entering into these deals. British taxpayers risk losing their own tax pounds to American firms’.

I think local authorities should take heed of what Stevens says - but what's the alternative?
My view is that the libraries should not be shut down. My local library was a lifeline in my childhood.
A lover of books, my working class parents couldn't afford to buy me the weekly fix I needed. I ploughed through an average of four books and more in the holidays and at weekends.
It would be terribly unfair to take away free books from the section of society who love to read but can't afford to buy books. I would even go so far as to say that closing libraries in working class and deprived inner city areas will reinforce the poverty trap.

Keep our libraries open!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Rochdale's Creative Kids

Been away for a while but keen to share my thoughts again.
I was in Rochdale Town Hall last week delivering a creative writing session to a hall full of over 100 kids. I asked them to write the blurb for my new book, Zahra's Trip to Misr'.
Some great storylines ... damn ... some were even better than my own story.
Read all about it on the website link: