Forgive me being a little parochial here, but as a resident of Bristol, I was heartened by the change of heart on the part of the city council, reversing the decision to close seven of the city’s local libraries (including the one closest to me and the majority of them in what might be regarded as the less affluent areas).
I realise that these are financially straightened times but it seems to me terribly short sighted to cut the budget for libraries. This is a facility that enables those who cannot afford to access the knowledge and learning that is in books to do so and thereby gives them opportunities they would otherwise be denied. It may seem a terribly Victorian concept to offer the opportunity for self-improvement through free access to great literature to those who are disadvantaged but it is one with which I am sure Trollope would have sympathised. The libraries also, in this computer age, provide free access to the internet for those who might be unable to afford the latest laptops and smartphones and would be excluded as a result.
The argument I would put forward in support of the libraries is that the time to invest for the future – in training, in research and development, etc – is when the situation is tough. That way you will emerge stronger and more able to meet future challenges.
Okay – I’ll get off my soap box now and join the celebrations at the reprieve, while getting ready to fight the fight again next year when the urge to cut budgets will come round once again.