First BFI announces job cuts and the closure of its art gallery. Then over 400 public libraries are under threat in Great Britain. What is going on?!?! British Film Institute has done wonderful work preserving (British) film and television history. The British public library system is one of the finest in the world. Now the powers that be try to undermine these important services, all in the sake of money. How is it that the western world is richer than ever but is somehow, apparently, struggling with finances? It has all got to do with values and priorities. Preservering cultural heritage doesn’t sound all that hip or cool these days. And the idea of raising taxes to fund public library system is just scary. Things like free access to information for all,  promoting lifelong learning, providing (literary) culture to anyone interested, well, that’s just silly. Even more silly is to hire professional librarians to care for public libraries. Who needs an expert in cataloguing or documentation when google knows all and finds all, right? *sigh* It’s scary that this kind of thinking is spreading, first it’s Britain, next it’s happening all over. Somehow those so called tacit factories (future libraries mentioned in Finland’s official country brand) don’t sound all that bad….

Author Philip Pullman is also a library lover. “I love the public library service for what it did for me as a child and as a student and as an adult. I love it because its presence reminds us that there are things above profit, things that profit knows nothing about, things that have the power to baffle the greedy ghost of market fundamentalism, things that stand for civic decency and public respect for imagination and knowledge and the value of simple delight.” Read the whole article. Keep writing and promoting public libraries Philip ❤

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A delegation of rich and famous Finns worked on a “Country Brand” for Finland. After two years of work the end report is here. I’m not too impressed with the results. Especially the parts that dealt with libraries is absolute drivel. You can just see that the people writing this report have never even accidentally stepped in to a public library. I suppose I should be glad that these people even know that public libraries exist…*sigh*

Finns love their libraries. They are places for reading, listening and being. The traditional task of libraries as book storehouses where anybody can get the information they require with the assistance of friendly employees has, however, changed.

First of all, I don’t think libraries have ever been just “book storehouses”. Secondly, we librarians have been aware of the changes in information society and have adapted to the new needs of patrons and offered them new services. (A fact that these delegates would have learnt had they visited an actual library.)

“Information has been freed and an ever increasing number of Finns find the information they need via the Internet and not from books. Therefore, libraries must bring themselves up to date in order to meet the demand that still exists for them.”

Information is definitely not free. The Finnish copyrigt law among other things made sure of that. And what about the infamous e-books? Libraries (in Finland) are not free to distribute them to patrons like old-fashioned books.

There is still a need in Finland for shared living rooms, spaces for spending time and meeting people as well as for engaging in cultural pursuits, which are maintained through public funds. The role of libraries could be just as important as a coordinator of various jointly owned goods and as a promoter of a sustainable culture of consumption. Libraries in Finland can also be developed as a part of the international Tacit Factory project.”

There is still need for libraries indeed. However, public funding is in crisis and the right-wing politics has never been a fan of public services so there are no improvements in near future for any public service. Only downsizing. And what the heck is a “Tacit Factory”, you ask. Well, read the report, if you dare.