Belfast Telegraph

Bring these library threats to book

By Robert McNeill

I like my blood to flow evenly, not getting anxious (except on losing my reading glasses), and prefer to take a long, slow look at things, before dozing off inadvertently.

But now I'm awake and uncharacteristically starey-eyed. You say: "What is it, you poor boobie? Whence this rocking of your equilibrium?"

I'll tell you whence, madam. Up, down and across these lands, there's dark talk of closing public libraries.

In Northern Ireland, the Department of Culture and Whatnot faces budget cuts of 18%. In England and Scotlandshire, 400 public libraries face the chop.

What is it, ladies and gentlemen? That's right, it's an outrage. Public libraries are indices of civilisation, repositories of knowledge, communal centres of learning.

Market enthusiasts, knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing, say libraries are uneconomical, but I've already called for these people to be imprisoned, and have nothing more to say about them.

Protests are growing, with mass meetings in Shepton Mallet and the like. Television star Paul O'Grady has spoken out, as have popular beat combo British Sea Power.

Good for them. Faced with cuts to our libraries, the last thing we need is silence.

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