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Sunday December 09 2018

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In Full . . .

THE VILLAGE VIEW

Posted on November 30 2018 at 9:57:55

Every other week, usually on a Thursday afternoon, I run my near-nonagenarian father from Barnt Green over to the library in Alvechurch.

If I’ve a book to return, it goes quickly through the machine, then I’ll sit in a chair while Dad tries to find something to keep him occupied for another fortnight and, if I don’t nod off in the warm comfort of the place, watch what’s going on.

There is usually quite a buzz. The bank of public-use computers close to the entrance are often fully occupied, presumably by people who for one reason or another don’t have internet access at home.

This alone is a useful public service: not everyone is constantly wired into the digital web, as I discovered recently when someone replied to an email, almost a week after I sent it to him, on his regular Saturday visit to the library to “log in”.

There are usually schoolchildren in their uniforms at the tables with what seem to be tutors, perhaps giving extra maths or English lessons.

There are often children with parents studying the shelves, pulling out the books and flicking through the pages and looking at the cover illustrations, which are becoming ever more inventive.

It is heartening to see young people getting to know books, real books they can touch.

There are also the other readers of all ages perusing the shelves, while the staff are busy replacing titles in the correct places or at the reception desk giving out information and taking bookings for the various groups that meet at the library.

One of these takes over a side room, partitioned off on Friday mornings, for Spanish lessons. The class members come from Barnt Green, Aston Fields, Bromsgrove and Lickey, as well as Alvechurch (including me).

While the lesson is taking place, we can hear snatches of song from an infants group enjoying a session on the other side of the library.

And then, of course, there is my Dad, who would find one of his main pastimes curtailed if he did not have easy access to a library and the books he loves to read.

The 1964 Public Libraries Act said local authorities must provide a “comprehensive and efficient library service”.

Thanks to the dismantling of public services in the UK over the past decade, by those who feel everything should be provided by the private sector to those who can afford to pay for it, Worcestershire County Council is no longer able to fulfil this responsibility.

It surely is the time to make some noise to save our library.

RP


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