Friday, 31 January 2014

Help Save our Libraries!

Councils, Cuts and Foolish Finances!

Wigtown County Buildings, which house the library
 
It is with some dismay that I read of Dumfries and Galloway Council proposing cuts to Wigtown Library opening hours, from 40.5 hours to 17.5 hours per week. To many, this is possibly nothing more than the next cut in an already over-stretched (some may prefer to say badly-spent) budget forced upon the council by circumstances beyond their control. But for those of us who live here in Wigtownshire, the threat of cutting the library opening hours is nothing short of outrageous!
 
Wigtown is a small town - not a village, a town - home to around 1,000 people. It's our nearest town, about 10 miles from Frugaldom. The County Buildings, in which the library is now located, underwent massive refurbishment between 2000 and 2003 shortly after Wigtown was awarded official recognition as Scotland's national book town. I'll repeat myself here; Wigtown is Scotland's national BOOK town - as in the town of BOOKS. Any Government cut backs that could result in restricting public access to books within a national book town is nothing short of scandalous! In fact, if it wasn't such a serious threat, one might be forgiven for considering it as a sick joke!
 

 
The county buildings and all that they contain are the hub of the Wigtown community, with the library providing free access to books, papers, research facilities, computing and, lest we forget, the Internet. It has a children's area, a fun place for littlies to gather and listen to the fantastic tales told by the likes of Renita Boyle , one of the local authors and storytellers. 
 
A library opens up a whole new world to anyone who may not necessarily have the wherewithal to buy books. It provides online access and contact with the outside world for visiting writers, book collectors and other visitors to the area, especially during festivals and fairs. Let's face it, we can't rely on mobile phones about here and it's not as though everyone has phone lines installed, let alone owns a computer with an Internet connection. 
 
Wigtown library serves as an information access point for tourists and yes, some may see it as taking advantage of the place, but there's no getting away from the fact that the library can provide a bit of warmth, comfort and peace to enjoy a good book while just passing the time of day. Libraries ensure books stay in print and are made available to all who want to turn real pages and they allow us the freedom to choose what, where and when we read.
 
 
A library is about providing an open learning facility for anyone who cares to venture through its doors. It should be accessible throughout the day and week. If these proposed cuts go ahead, will anyone take the time to co-ordinate the newly reduced opening hours with the times of our dwindling public bus services? We have no public transport to or from our tiny corner of this county, but we do have a visit from the library bus every three weeks. Will the library buses be stopped in the near future, I wonder?
 
We, as frugalers, should embrace and support these precious resources in whatever way we can. Even if you would not be directly affected by a reduction in services, you represent the electorate whose votes put Governments and their people in high places. Our tax money contributes to their salaries, so it is up to us to ensure that these people take responsibility for how they spend our money.
 
As frugalers, spending within our own means is something we do.
As frugalers, avoiding unsustainable debts is something we do.
As frugalers, making do and mending is part of our daily routine.
As frugalers, sharing our knowledge freely is something we do.
As frugalers, doing our best to support one another is something we do.
As frugalers, access to public services may be paramount to the survival of our lifestyle.
 
To everyone who is following, everyone who is attempting to follow and even to those of you who do no more than read about following a frugal lifestyle, I would ask that you carefully consider needs, as opposed to wants.
 
In my opinion, we need our libraries to remain open and accessible fulltime. For some, they are the only leisure facilities left within the realms of affordability and for others, they provide the only warm and quiet retreat available to them for relaxation, reading and/or study. For writers, illustrators, photographers, translators and editors, libraries represent a trickle of income derived by way of Public Lending Rights, for those with eyesight problems, they may be the only local source of large print or audio-books... the list goes on!
 
Why shouldn't we stand together and fight these proposed cuts when they could result in us giving up the luxury of free access to the books and services we need when we need them?
 
Help us to say no to cuts in our library services then feel free to come back and request our help when it's your turn. Sign the petition against proposed cuts to Wigtown library HERE and, if it is within your power, come visit in May during the festival. I'll try to meet you in the library!
 
NYK, Frugaldom

18 comments:

  1. Even though I am in Kent, I have signed the petition. We need to stand up for things like this - thanks for highlighting this. Liloandstitch xx

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    1. Thank you, your support is greatly appreciated. It's just utterly unbelievable that they can even consider such a thing, let alone in a country's national book town. Hopefully, we'll see a dew more signatures soon. I think most of the businesses in Wigtown have paper copies for customers to sign and the locals are rallying against this. Sadly, there are also those whose argument is that they don't borrow books, so why bother. I wonder if they'd be the same about health care on the premise they never got ill?

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  2. I live in Surrey and I've signed the petition. I was lucky enough to be able to read before I started school and recall borrowing books from Ealing library on my parents' tickets. Was so proud when I reached the age of five and could borrow books in my own name. I've been an avid reader/library user ever since.

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    1. We definitely need as much access as possible to books for readers of all ages and interests. Someone just posted a quote by author James Patterson saying "There's no such thing as a kid who hates reading. There are kids who love reading, and kids who are reading the wrong books'.

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  3. We definitely need our libraries! Cheering you on from the states!

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    1. Thanks. It's not just Wigtown, it's a similar story all over the country, but I think the mere fact this is the book town reflects really badly on Dumfries & Galloway Council and, sadly, the local communities who don't seem to see such a need for open access to books. Perhaps I'm old-fashioned in believing such services are still essential?

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  4. THAT HONESTLY MAKES NO SENSE WHAT SO EVER???

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    1. I guess it all boils down to the cold hard facts that the library services, as provided, aren't financially sustainable in the current economic climate. But then again, we look at what politicians are spending and think what the heck - this cannot be allowed to continue!

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  5. NYK have signed the petition as well. Our library is fighting so hard to stay open too. The Council say it's too close to the brand spanking new City library which everyone hates, so ours has to go to cut costs. Let the fight begin!

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    1. Is the new one within easy walking distance or bus ride from your local one, Kim? I've sent in a request via MSP for official figures to see what percentage of the community actually use the library doe the purposes of book borrowing and internet access.

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  6. it is approx 1.5 miles from the existing one but not easily accessible. Also we live in one of the poorest area's of the country and the library is a life line to those seeking job's needing internet access etc. There are also a high percentage of elderly people in the area, who although they get free bus passes, would find the walk from the bus to the new library.virtually impossible and unsafe as it involves subway's, underpasses and at least 1/4 mile from the bus stop.
    The local primary schools use it weekly and it has a great children's section which is used alot. Many parents use it when they visit the Supermarket next door as you get 2 hrs free parking on their carpark if you are using the library.
    It would be a big loss to the community

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    1. Are they campaigning to save it? (Never having lived anywhere of any great size, I can't begin to comprehend 2 libraries within a mile and a half of each other.)

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    2. The first public meeting was held last week and there are petitions up and running. Next meeting is in 2 weeks time. It is being fought for not just by the community but by the staff, and the volunteers who run the satellite libraries in a couple of community centres a couple of times a week

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    3. Good luck, let me know how you get on - I think the council meeting about this one is on Thursday.

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  7. Like Belinda above, I'm cheering you on from the States. Libraries ARE part of essential services!!! I can't imagine life without them.
    ~ Pru

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    1. Thanks, Pru. I think we all appreciate that councils can't be held responsible for providing us with everything, but I do feel that books need to be affordable and accessible to all, regardless of age, location or financial status. So many people are so used to their modern conveniences that they can't even comprehend that what's normal for them may be far beyond the reach of so many others. Once again, basic education is failing, in my opinion.

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  8. Signed and commented. What a ridiculous idea :-(

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    1. I contacted our MSP but he's said he has already voiced his dislike of the situation and that the local council has decided to cut all library services in the region. There's a council meeting on Thursday, so we'll wait and see what comes out of that. I guess if they don't have the money to fund these things, they simply don't have the money and that will be that. From a frugal point of view, I think I would at least have thrown open the suggestion that a community group might like to volunteer a few hours of their time to assist the librarian but at the end of the day, all the legislation, data protection and access to what might be privileged information by way of the council computer systems makes that difficult. I know I had to have my checks done for working there and many aren't prepared to pay those costs.

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