Friday, 20 April 2012

Banning, burning and blocking books.

Lara earlier this week covered my stance on book burning. Book burning in the name of fascism is a horrendous act, and I’m thankful that we have so much freedom with what we can read. But there is another way to deny people access to literature, ideas and the ability to broaden their minds. It’s happening in this country, right now. This government is closing libraries. Now this may not be an issue for those who have money, they have the option to buy books. What about the poorest of society? My parents could never have afforded to buy the volume of books I could consume. I grew up in Central Blackpool, which then as it is now was quite deprived. There is and was little to do for children and teenagers. Being naturally very introverted and shy I didn’t like hanging about the streets when I was a young teen. So I spent my time amusing myself in the local library at the bottom of my street. I was delighted in the fact that the Librarians did not restrict the types of book I could read, so read from every genre (especially horror because that was my act of teenage rebellion). I would take my little orange tickets and get 6 books each time, and disappear to my room. Now I didn’t lean towards the classics I must admit, I was lazy teen and wanted something that didn’t require too much effort to read but would transport me from the world of drunks, arcades, concrete and poverty to somewhere exciting, different and unique. I did draw the line at romance and Chick Lit though, I’ve never liked those.

Nowadays I will read anything if it’s good. I have no particular genre I fall back on, and I have the library to thank for that. I had no financial investment in experimenting with books. A library was a veritable buffet of genres, stories and styles, and I had only to pick what I fancied. I would walk in with a sense of delight. Now without the local library what would I have done? I’m not sure. I’d have been very bored and probably caused trouble. I would have had the capabilities intellectually but no outlet. It took until my late twenties before I decided to do a degree but I had a good grounding, I had consumed a lot of ideas by that point, a lot of perspectives and information. Thanks to my library. Now they are being closed in droves in this country, under this government, and few are objecting. I don’t know why. Libraries entertained me, libraries engaged me, and libraries taught me to question everything. Closing libraries is on a par with book burning, it is restricting books to those who can afford to buy them. It is limiting the amount of literature and information we have access to. It is restricting social mobility and narrowing the minds of our children. It may not have the violence or symbolism of burning books, but the effect is the same.


Ashley R Lister said...

I wholeheartedly agree.

Excellent post - and a relevant take on this week's theme.


Lara Clayton said...

I completely agree. We should be preserving and improving our libraries rather than closing them. We should be encouraging the next generation to read, to question, to be free-thinkers and to understand that the value and worth of an object is far greater than its price tag.
Libraries are goldfish bowls containing thousands of different worlds - worlds that we should be saving rather than destroying.