Towards the end of December, the 18th, in fact, I attended a meeting at Chepstow Library. I am the Chair of Friends Of Abergavenny Library Services, FOALS, and the meeting had been called for all friends' groups in Monmouthshire to discuss the future of library service provision. We were told that a merged service of a library and One Stop Shop would be rolled out and would be called a 'Community Hub'. This did not go down well. There was also complete disapproval from everyone about proposed cuts in front-line staff.
Whilst the meeting didn't feel much like a discussion, more a handing down of instruction, at an area committee meeting in Abergavenny earlier this month, officers of council had evidently taken heed of the reaction in Chepstow before Christmas, even as far as reconsidering the name 'Community hub', which, quite frankly, is naff, and what is a library if it isn't a community hub! the alternatives floated were unfortunately even more naff, for instance. 'Find it at the library'. I suppose that is supposed to fit on a sign! what is wrong with 'library'!
The issue of staff reductions is also being reconsidered. I think it is bizarre to make redundant trained librarians who are a resource and prize of society, and fails any notion of society in terms of society as provider.
I think we have never needed libraries more than we do now. Closure of libraries must prompt people to question the way we are governed, the ethic of state, and the role of the individual. I believe in a democratic as a dynamic, and that a democratic to evolve has to be tested. Library closure is a test that has to strengthen the need for and function of libraries, and this in turn will strengthen the individual, society, the democratic.
I have acquainted myself with other libraries facing closure, particularly in Cardiff. The problems facing each library are very specific and the general issue is going to require pragmatism, thought, and options for councillors and officers of council. The only people who can do this are library users, and I am seeing a lot of action on that front.
So, I have written a little ditty about the situation and I also bumped into a poet I very much admire, Michael Williams, whilst at the Chepstow meeting. We poets are kicking off. The blood is up.
Michael has been very kind to allow me to publish one of my favourite poems by him, so this post is about the magical events that occur in libraries and why they are so vital.
Where the trees begin, there is north,
here as I come from mile-square fields,
now as I arrive as if over turned fathom of a great ocean,
to discover barrier islands spreading before a landing,
the truth north gained upon rectified ways,
highroads laid not to habit, but at the bureau,
and driven to an end and a beginning,
the semi-plane, provincial portion of the infinite,
where the grass ends, where the trees begin.
Michael did ask me to mention that this is a draft. A draft! I wish I wrote drafts like this. I have not had the chance yet to tell him, but I think it is without flaw. I also saw him last week at the Imperial Hotel, Merthyr. Poet, and man of Merthyr, Mike Jenkins puts the night on, which had been jacked by Poetry Wales! it was a big night, with Costa winner, and mate, Jonathan Edwards. Michael Williams read three beautiful poems. The poetry scene here in Wales is epic.
This is my little ditty I was asked to write by one of the librarians at Abergavenny library. I performed it last week at the Impy. Hmmm, no, the week before, last week was the Murenger, in Newport.
Binding the learnt politic
In the scope of between
unanimous ends of nerve
wax the threads that binds the seam.
The needle holds its curve.
Thumb requires thimble,
tender palm the driving pad.
You cut through a swindle
when you tighten a lag.