Rant – Libraries and The Price of Knowledge

If you shut down the access to worlds of wonder, we're probably not going to get on.

If you shut down the access to worlds of wonder, we’re probably not going to get on.

The closure of libraries is a crime against the intelligence of future generations and the pleasure of the present.

I just went – as a white male with a full-time job and a company of my own, meaning I can afford it – into Waterstones, and the price of a new hardback book was £25-£30.

I can spend that if I want to, but the point is, the closure of libraries means that same book, which would have been available to everyone, is now only available to people like me, who decide it’s worth paying £30 for quite a slim volume on, say, George, Duke of Clarence, or the latest scientific advances.  Or it’s available to those who accept the monopoly of e-books and the companies that supply them.

That’s turning reading and learning into a fetishistic pleasure of the rich, rather than a pleasure or an escape route for the poor. Books are becoming the hand-rolled Cubans of knowledge, the caviar of understanding, the Bollinger of entertainment.

When you stop up or tear down the access routes for people of all ages and incomes to access information, enlightenment and the sheer pleasure of writing, you engage in a war. A class war, that claims only those who can pay can educate themselves.

This is of course not even to mention the range of social functions libraries perform, or the fact that they allow older people on limited budgets the chance to keep their minds active and to interact with their community if they want to. By closing libraries, the message you send is that you want older people, who’ve built the society you stand in, to hurry up and die and decrease the population, to stay alone, to spend their last years in isolation, without so much as the window to another world that books, and company, and a friendly word can give them.

Stop this infantile library-closure plan.

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