A 9 year old girl called Jessica recently wrote an article in First News, a newspaper for children, about library closures. Here's what she wrote:
"Books are special. You can read amazing stories and learn about history and different places in the world. I use two libraries to help me with my homework and both are being shut down. I hope you understand that you are making a big mistake."
Roy Clare, head of the Museum, Libraries and Archives Council reacted to this piece as "..froth without substance. After all, when tearful teenagers wrote to the PM about the break up of Take That more than a decade ago, No 10 couldn't fix that either."
Hmmm. A child pointing out that library closures will damage her education and reduce her chances of increasing her awareness of the world around her doesn't sound like 'froth without substance' to me.
The MLA, of which Mr Clare is head, says this about libraries:
"Public libraries make a measurable and substantial contribution to local economies, and help to bridge social divides. They support well-being, encourage reading, spread knowledge, contribute to learning and skills and help to foster identity, community and a sense of place for people of all ages, backgrounds and cultures.
"They provide a unique resource for informal learners and support formal learning throughout people’s lives. They are centres of creativity opening up a rich world of inspirational works by great writers and artists."
But apparently, when a nine-year-old says almost exactly the same thing but in simpler (and more powerful) terms, that's "froth without substance".
If you are concerned that the head of the organisation which is supposed to be championing libraries is a) a man who would sneer at a nine-year-old with genuine and valid concerns about her education and b) apparently believes that the closure of libraries will have no more effect on a child's life than the break-up of a pop group, please do email him and tell him at email@example.com.
Thanks to Si Spencer for bringing this to my attention.