Good grief, people.
A trip to my local library and they’ve installed an automatic book checkout. What the…? What is the world coming to? I can understand auto checkouts in hotels. I’ll even say (after my initial refusal to use them) that auto checkouts at the supermarket can be real handy for one or two items. BUT NOOOOOOOOOOOOOT in my library. When I go to the library – I want help. I want discussion, a meeting of like minds and some advice. I’m not buying a packet of peas. I’m researching facts and looking for fiction to inform on my writing. I want to talk to someone who knows about genre, resources, writers and literature.
Yeah, I’m a writer. I make things up. Story, I make up. Details like history, technology, culture – those I need to ground in reality with facts. More specifically – verified facts. And that’s the difference between “real” hold in your hand, paper, published by a reputable source books and the internet. The facts in books are verified.
And… that’s not the worst of it. When I asked what this meant for the librarians’ jobs, I was glumly told that, though no jobs have gone YET, they will not be replacing anyone who leaves. This sucks and is so short-sighted. Ten years from now there’ll be screams about the literacy rates in our schools and how Australia has sunk down the international literacy standards. Millions of dollars will need to be spent to try to and educate our children to read more vocab than on a Twitter post or Facebook status. Come on, who is responsible for this?
When I did my Diploma of Prof Writing & Editing back in the nineties, the push was on for readers and the focus on raising literacy standards. What happened? Aim achieved, so now we don’t need to bother.
The lack of forethought and projectivity stuns me. I feel mad and sad. I’m not sure what to do about it, but I do know this is tragic and stupid.
I’ve signed petitions to save Librarians in schools, but, instead of seeing an improvement, everything I read says it’s getting worse. What can be done? Is there anything we can do? Because this is NOT progress. This is destructive and doing a great disservice not only to our children but the whole of our society.