Don't Close Our Library!

I’m despairing somewhat. The whizz-kids at Suffolk County Council are trying to close Bungay Library. We’ve only recently moved to the town and the library is one of its many aces. Possibly the ace of all the aces for us. It’s housed in a modern (90s) building, it’s light and airy, has all mod cons, friendly staff and a beautiful enclosed garden my son loves to run around in. The entrance hall is bright with posters and flyers for all sort of local events, there are always people using the facilities and at night it’s used as a meeting place for local clubs, from running clubs to sewing clubs. Basically, it’s a well loved, well used service in a great building.

What’s more it’s inexpensive. It’s certainly costs a hell of a lot less to run than it does to keep Suffolk County Councils CEO behind her desk for a year. Andrea Hill has an annual salary of over £220,000. And she’s not taking a pay cut! And they’re saying we should have our library closed!

These extortionate salaries are justified with a line such as this: “if we want the best people we have to compete with the private sector.” Which of course assumes ‘the best people’ are only out for the cash. I’d argue that many of the ‘best people’ earn salaries that do not compete with the private sector and it doesn’t matter to them, as long as they are treated fairly (ha, fat chance with this government). But even if we accept that weak line there is still no chance that people like Andrea Hill should be earning that kind of money now. You want to make it like the private sector, fine, do that, but when the money dries up, so do their salaries. The private sector would have a board room cull right about now. They wouldn’t stop making things or providing services, because otherwise they cease to exist.

Suffolk County Council should be cutting from the top down, not frontline services like libraries. Or maybe they should be putting up council tax cover some of the short fall. The reason they haven’t done that by they way is that the government has given them an £8m bribe not to. So Cameron can boast about council tax not rising in the commons. The whole thing is rotten and bent and wrong.

Anyway, for what good it’ll do I’ve written this poem, which sums up my feelings better than above rant:

An Ash of Dewey Decimals

In county halls across the land
the snakes who make two hundred grand
are rolling out a gruesome plan
to close the libraries.

The type who’s names appear on plaques
cry Prudence! as they strike a match
then hold it to a paperback
and something dies in me.

The misspelled writing’s on the wall
they’ll sell the land for shopping malls
an ash of Dewey Decimals
it makes good business sense.

Now reading groups and learning schemes
and safety nets for falling teens
are charcoal in a jack-boot dream
of raging discontent.

Meanwhile these lords in second homes
will whisper in their mobile phones
and purchase shares in Waterstones
Hurrah! A bumper year!

They gurn and cheer as Britain chokes
and public welfare sadly smokes:
We’re all in this together, folks!
Just drown yourself in beer.

And those who think these lines contrived
come here and look me in the eyes
and tell me this is civilised
don’t try to lie to me.

You damn the kids in rural towns
whose shoulders are not fit for gowns
you keep them thick and keep them down
in your Big Society.

12 Comments

  • Chelsey March 14, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    I feel your pain, Luke. Hope your thoughts get listened to, and Aidan gets to keep his garden.

    Reply
  • James Hargrave March 14, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    Luke, this is an excellent post and poem. There are many of us fighting to save Suffolk Libraries. There is a march and protest in Ipswich on Sat 2nd April, if you could attend and read your poem (outside Endeavour House!) that would be fantastic. Details on the Rosehill Readers blog http://rosehillreaders.wordpress.com/ contact me via my Blog http://blog.hargrave.org.uk or Josiah has my details

    Reply
  • GreatBigBadger March 14, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    Good blog. Good poem. I’ve long held there are plenty of ‘the best people’ around, many of them earning much less and just waiting for a chance to shine.

    Applies even more to bankers, where the people at the top are obviously not ‘the best people’ as they made the wrong decisions last time around. How many have gone because of those decisions, though?

    Reply
  • Sally March 14, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    See the Sustainable Bungay website for more information about the Save Bungay Library campaign.

    If you want to get involved with the Save Our Libraries Campaign across the UK, visit CILIP (that’s the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals ) for more information.

    And if you don’t want to get involved, then WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?!? Libraries are brilliant.

    Reply
  • yan March 14, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    I also feel pain Luke.
    Beccles Library is on the way out too, but to be fair, it is a bit shit, and we’re getting a Wetherspoons soon.

    Reply
  • Steve March 14, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    Excellently put.

    Have you sent this to EADT and your other local papers? They’ll love it ‘BBC poet defends local library’ yay!

    Reply
  • Janet Moore March 14, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    Well said, Luke!

    Reply
  • Aidan Roe March 14, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    Luke, another great poem. I’m just getting over your brilliant take on Dresden and then this. Many years ago – way before your appearance on the planet – I went to a political rally in Belle Vue, Manchester. A place rich in irony as the name implies. Jimmy Reid, a Scottish shop stewards leader at the time, was the speaker. He stared at us, paused for dramatic effect as we sat transfixed like rabbits in the headlights and said, “and the one thing ye have to remember is this; if we all spat together we could drown the bastards.” Suffolk is quite low lying. Maybe worth a try?

    Reply
  • Dan McIntyre March 15, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    Sums up exactly how many are feeling. As a child I spent many a happy hour in my local library on a Saturday morning, I even became quite proficient with the microfiche reader (before t’internet for those too young to know about such things).

    Dan

    Reply
  • A poem for libraries by Luke Wright March 27, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    […] Bungay poet, Luke Wright, was supporting the campaign to save his local library on Saturday. You can read his thoughts on Suffolk County Council’s library proposals and the full text of his poem An Ash of Dewey Decimals on his website. […]

    Reply
  • Genie out of the bottle May 22, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Our libraries are our life’s blood
    Let’s fight and give our all
    To lose would be our shame
    Our children deserve so much

    Reply
  • with you there but in Bath January 24, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    National Libraries Day February 4th 2012. hope this poem gets read – all the best

    Reply

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