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It Could Be Worse

Although a few years ago it looked like American libraries might be in trouble, perhaps even reduced to the irrelevance that American Libraries has long enjoyed, they seem to be doing okay.

Levies are getting passed. Cities are building or expanding more libraries. Lots of people are using them and lots more seem to like them. Everything’s looking rosy.

If only that were true elsewhere in the English-speaking world, or the non-English-speaking world for that matter. It seems every week I’m reading stories on possible library closures in the UK.

It’s almost as if some of the British powers that be used the recent recession as an excuse to wage permanent war on public libraries, especially ones located in people’s actual communities. I know the UK is a small country compared to the US, but it’s not like everyone can just pop into the British Library when they want a book to read.

I haven’t been able to figure out the ultimate cause. Maybe it’s like the recent dramatic university tuition rises in the UK. Someone somewhere in power just wants to make access to books and education harder.

If there hadn’t been so many public protests over library closures, I’d have just assumed the entire country had become football hooligans, negating the need for any libraries at all.

And in some ways more shocking war on libraries comes from the Great White North. Reading stuff like this on the closure of Canadian government libraries raises the question: what the hell happened to Canada?

Librarians are blaming it on the conservative government there, but governments are elected by a majority of voters, who seem to have gone crazy in their hostility to science. So much for disgruntled American liberals threatening to move to Canada. They might as well stay here.

There’s a recurring theme popular with Canadians that Canadians are smarter than Americans. I suppose they need something to feel superior about living next to the last global superpower, especially when they have to come down here to get jobs.

However, they’re not even going to have that if they keep closing down government libraries and hampering scientists and all the other things the government’s trying to do there. They’re going to be worse than America. They’re going to be like [insert whatever state you think is the stupidest one in the US]!

So if you want to feel better about American libraries, or if you’re just the sort of cruel person who enjoys schadenfreude, take a look at what libraries are going through in other countries. Most of the time doing that makes me glad I live in America. Then I read the regular news and start to fret all over again.

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Comments

  1. Andrew says:

    Results may vary based on location. I live in a crimson state with a tea party majority and a legislature that’s still discussing an honest-to-god gay marriage ban in 2014.

    They’ve been on a tax cutting spree for the past decade and while libraries aren’t being targeted specifically the local public libraries have been slammed in a bad way as their revenue dries up and what is trickling in is forced to be shared across multiple local government entities. And there are even more local gov’t cuts on the horizon that could be the death blow for struggling systems that have been limping along on life support since the recession hit.

  2. A Canadian librarian says:

    The conservative government did not tell us they planned to close federal libraries and archives, muzzle scientists and librarians, and destroy archive materials in their election campaign.

  3. Not annoyed says:

    Interesting that, even here, we cannot avoid the boring and self-inflated American “global superpower” ego. Unless you’re being facetious. In which case, perhaps not facetious enough.

  4. Superior Canadian librarian says:

    Did Canadian librarians just get… spanked? I’ll thank you to acknowledge that the majority of Canadian citizens are not gifted – though we are gifted, as you have noted – with the powers of clairvoyance. Ridiculous.

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