Thursday, 9 October 2008

Library review

Andy Burnham has announced a review of England's public libraries.

Already, a sensible conversation has become impossible. Debate has centred around the red herrings of whether libraries should be places of silence or chatter, with claims that the government has "proposed" that they should be places for coffee drinking and video watching (no such proposal has been actually been made).

Meanwhile, the blogocracy is buzzing with the usual smattering of writers (producer interest) and elitists bemoaning the dumbing down of a once great institution.

Singer Rosie Bell buys the media's line that these are proposals, not a review and tells us, "Every time a cultural minister opens his or her gob, I reach for my gun"

"The Wife" admits to being, "an intellectual snob".

JuliaM sees it as "cultural vandalism".

The media and the bloggers have already defined this debate as the clash of the defenders of our cultural inheritance and the dumbers down and levellers. Only Belinda Webb appears to realise the essential futility of this debate, but even she sees the two sides as essentially opposed. Never has so much air been expended by those who know so little.

A false dichotomy has been set up, and sensible debate becomes impossible - it is this that will be the fundamental cause of the death of the public library.

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