Skip to content
Advertisements

Neil Gaiman On The Future Of Libraries

Apparently, England has a library problem.

Budget cuts have forced their government to close hundreds of libraries since 2009. And The Library Campaign predicts 400 more will close by 2016, bringing the total to nearly 1,000.

That’s terribly sad.

During a recent lecture in London, Gaiman compared these library closures to stopping vaccination programs for children.

“It’s not insurance, we have the statistics,” Mr Gaiman said. “It’s the equivalent of stopping the vaccination programmes. We know what the results are. To remain a global power and have a citizenry that is fulfilled and fulfilling their responsibilities and obligations we need literate kids and literate adults.”

Amen, Mr. Gaiman. You speak truth.

Look, I live in America and our government is pretty embarrassing. So I’m not speaking on high ground here, but it seems like education should be one of the last budget cuts. What’s wrong with these people?

What’s a world without libraries? A horrible world, that’s what it is.

The sad thing is that, according to the same article, England was recently ranked 22 out of 24 European and Asian counterparts in literacy.

Gaiman also admits his disdain for the book snobs of the world as well, as he seems to think they have a negative affect on the spread of reading. Go figure.

Pointing to a trend to label genres or the work of a particular author as “bad books”, he said: “It’s tosh. It’s snobbery and it’s foolishness.” He added that even reading works seen as “bad” would be a “gateway drug to other books you may prefer”.

Take that, book snobs.

Let’s just hope the English government gets its act together and these libraries aren’t forced to close. Any English readers seen the effects of this?

More on the story at The Independent. 

(Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Advertisements
28 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sad to hear wish this was a lie.

    Like

    October 23, 2013
  2. Neil has been fighting the good fight for a long time.I can’t imagine closures on that scale. Hopefully you get some feedback from British readers, I’d be interested to hear their take on this.

    Like

    October 23, 2013
  3. I have noticed a real decline in the quality of British libraries in recent years. I have always been an avid reader and would spend my spare time heading off to my local library at every opportunity but it seems this is just not the case for people today. Not only do you have to firstly find one that is still open, you then have to check opening times because these have now been shortened and probably the most distressing element is that once inside these establishments time seems to have stood still…books have not been updated and if I want to find a modern day, top ten novel to read my best bet is to order it off of Amazon. We could blame the invention of e-readers and the Internet but I don’t think that is entirely to blame for this, we have to look at the investment that is put in…I am not even sure that University Libraries have stood this test.

    Like

    October 23, 2013
    • Hate to hear this.

      Like

      October 23, 2013
      • I hope they don’t disappear completely as this would be quite tragic. To combat losing so many I think we need to help promote the importance of literacy whenever possible. I am an ex-teacher and one of the most depressing questions I was ever asked was “Miss, What’s a paragraph?” – the child was 13!”. I always have a book in hand wherever I go and constantly talk to people about the importance of reading, not only to younger people but also to people that are now in their 20’s and 30’s, as they are the ones having families now. I remember as a child my mother would have reading afternoons with me and I loved them.

        Like

        October 24, 2013
  4. Wasn’t it Carnegie who funded libraries world wide? I saw one in Ireland. Had probably been there almost a century- I forget when he lived. But that says something. I’m 74 and use my library weekly. Have been since I was 6. One of the great moments of my life, checking books out for the first time. Today my library has books I’ve actually written because of my exposure to libraries and books. Closing libraries should be a capital offense. In any country.

    Like

    October 23, 2013
  5. As the daughter of a librarian (here in the US), this makes me really sad! I know that spending lots of time in libraries as a kid with my mom made me an enthusiastic reader today – it’s a bummer to think that experience could be taken away for future generations.

    Like

    October 23, 2013
  6. How embarrassing and how sad. Somehow we’ve forgotten the value of things that nurture the soul and we’d prefer to forget about the left-behind. It’s all about profits. Our schools teach tests. Be thankful for people like Neil and Ray Bradbury who is no longer with us to remind us about what matters.

    Like

    October 23, 2013
  7. Yeah, I agree. American government is embarrassing right now. Sad for England. What’s a world without libraries?!

    Like

    October 23, 2013
  8. Firstly, brilliant blog topic, I read a longer extract from this speech on The Guardian website (http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/15/neil-gaiman-future-libraries-reading-daydreaming if you’re interested) and was thinking of doing a blog post on it but I wasn’t sure what to say other than I whole-heartedly agree!
    Secondly, as an English reader, I have noticed a change in libraries. When I was a kid, I’d take out books most Saturdays from my local library and come home and read them all as quickly as I could. Going back to my home town in the holidays however (I’m currently a uni student) there is a noticeable change. Luckily my little village library has remained open, but it’s never very busy, and I know of several small libraries in my local area that have been forced to shut down. It’s not a shame, it’s so much worse than that. Books are an escape, fuel for the imagination and a pastime that I love. Closing libraries is more than a shame, it’s an abomination and I dread to see the outcome of it.

    Like

    October 23, 2013
    • I agree. We’ll always have books in some form, but there’s something about libraries. Just going inside one when I was a kid put me at peace and in the mood to read.

      Like

      October 23, 2013
  9. my favorite Author!

    Like

    October 23, 2013
  10. The libraries in both my local market towns (Wiltshire, England) remain open thankfully. They are very well used, especially for internet access (not everyone can afford this at home). We also have a mobile library which stops in our village at prescribed times each week and is popular with the large care home for the elderly.

    I often struggle to find the books I wish to read, but with a bit of forward planning can order them in. Opening hours are hard to predict so need to be checked in advance. The librarians work hard to provide for all ages – from read aloud story mornings for preschoolers to holiday competitions (read a book a week to win a prize type thing) for those of school age.

    I believe a good part of their funding comes from the local council so is always at risk. The Neil Gaiman speech was inspired – libraries matter to those in most need. I can only hope that ours don’t suffer the fate of many in other parts of the country.

    Like

    October 23, 2013
  11. Reblogged this on Zen Garden and commented:
    how is your local library holding up??

    Like

    October 23, 2013
  12. loveysliterature123 #

    Although I am guilty of being a book snob, I do think that any reading is better than no reading. This is tragic.

    Like

    October 23, 2013
  13. jaggedsmile #

    As the husband of a librarian here in the States, I can tell you that contraction is happening here, as well. Though, thankfully, not on the scale of England. Yet.

    But, in the large metropolitan system where she works, hours are being cut and purchasing budgets for new books are taking huge hits.

    Bradbury was wrong. No matches were needed. Only screwed-up priorities and indifference.

    Like

    October 23, 2013
  14. This is terribly sad. I live in the USA and have taken for granted that there are literally 5 libraries near my house. I also work in a library that I love very much. My favorite places to go as a child were the library and various bookstores.

    Like

    October 23, 2013
  15. Reblogged this on Sherlock Tomes.

    Like

    October 23, 2013
  16. Sad news really. Library is also my haven here in Surrey,UK. My local library is brilliant with librarians always willing to be of service,and with smiles on their face. There are many other ways to cut down on budgets but nit to close libraries. Do something about this,Mr.Cameron!

    Like

    October 23, 2013
  17. This is not a good trend. I feel very fortunate to be in a library rich area. I have cards for four library systems and use them all as do many others as they are all busy.

    Like

    October 24, 2013
  18. This makes so sad, I love libraries and it will be terrible without as many.

    Like

    October 24, 2013
  19. JadedPsyche #

    I was under the impression that libraries were on the decline as well here in the U.S.until I started going consistently. I do live in a fairly large city, so this may not be the case everywhere, but the parking lot is always full at my local library. I do agree that it can be hard to find a popular book at the library, but that isn’t because they are not there, lots of people are just checking them out. I’ve found that librarians are really pushing to bring their systems into the new century with online request systems (that I swear by!) and even e-reader’s and online book downloads. Just wanted to sprinkle a little hope around. Hopefully the thriving library’s will inspire new methods to breath life back into public book access no matter where one lives.

    Like

    October 25, 2013
  20. As a Brit – libraries have fewer books, more space given over to computers for public access my local library has well under half the space devoted to books that it used to have, and i guess the sad fact becomes that with libraries holding fewer books, there will be fewer people using them – which is then a number cruncher’s dream, for local authority funding cuts – ‘very few people use the service so we can close it without great loss’

    Like

    October 26, 2013
  21. I completely agree with Gaiman… Libraries are extremely important! Great post 🙂

    Like

    October 27, 2013
  22. Reblogged this on Because My Life is Like That…..

    Like

    October 27, 2013
  23. Sissy #

    I’m a bit late to the mark on this, but I have to say something. I had a bit of a rocky time as a child. Things were a bit upsetting.
    There was a library right next door to my middle school and I would go there everyday after school. They had a really amazing program for teens. We could stay in the downstairs room and we would get help on our homework, play games, make crafts, etc. We also had really fun activities like our yearly mystery night.
    I cannot even begin to tell you what and impact that had on me. I know this sounds horrendously cliche and cheesy, but that library lighted up my life.
    Just last year, they tried to close a library in the town next to mine. We had a protest, which I attended, and fortunately we saved the library. What if it’s my library that gets closed next time?
    Thank you,
    Sissa

    Like

    November 27, 2013

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: