The UK’s national media have this past week been reporting on the decline of the UK’s libraries.
Yet, while our library system crumbles beneath us, examples from around the world illustrate that American and European library systems are flourishing.
So, what can we, and permaculture people in particular, do to support our library system?
BBC’s Breakfast programme had some positive examples of what to do on its Friday 14th August 2015 edition.
Author Alan Gibbons, and the Waterstone’s ex-head Tim Coates, both gave workable, practical examples of what can be done.
Alan Gibbons simply pointed out the benefits that a well resourced and supportive library service can offer to the education of children and adults alike.
Coates said that the reason for the library crisis in the UK was lack of management and lack of leadership.
“We have a crisis in the library service. In America libraries thrive, in European countries libraries thrive. It is only in Great Britain we have made a disaster out of our library services, and we really now have to do something very serious about it.”
Coates explained that London had about 300 libraries, costing around £200m a year to operate. He suggested bringing control for those libraries into one body, instead of separate local authorities, which he estimated would save £80m a year - £40m of which could be invested back into the service, and £40m which could go to the government. He suggested a similar plan for Birmingham and the surrounding areas.
An immediate way that people can support their libraries is by providing them with books. This is perhaps something many of us can very directly help with. There are basically two types of books that libraries need:
1). Books published in the past 12 months, they will always need this, it is a core part of their service
2). Also, it is increasingly books which offer solutions to whole communities which are increasingly of value. So, permaculture books can obviously make a huge contribution in the years ahead to people and communities.
So, we thought we would come up with our list of seven essential titles that any library may wish to see donated to them. We are asking the question, could we within the Permaculture community actually make a difference by being almost official guerrilla library suppliers, putting books we know are vital and helpful in our libraries and communal areas? Here are our suggestions, perhaps you have your own ideas as to essential titles, but we hope this will both get you going:
1. The Earth Care Manual, Patrick Whitefield’s definitive permaculture overview for our temperate climate.
2. Permaculture Design, a step by step guide for the novice or permaculture student alike!
3. Do It Yourself 12 Volt Solar Power, the book with one hundred innovative ideas!
4. Trees For Gardens, Orchards and Permaculture, a modern classic by one of our great experts. Our trees are one of our life bloods, and this helps you select the right tree for your private or communal spaces.
5. The Moneyless Manifesto, packed full of useful ideas for living on less money, certainly something which should be in our libraries where you do not spend money to read a book.
6. The Woodland House, as seen on Channel 4’s Grand Designs, the complete story of how Ben Law built his own beautiful woodland home for under £30,000.
7. People & Permaculture, Looby MacNamara’s vital exploration at the people care side of permaculture.
* You can buy each of these titles for your local library from us at this link: www.green-shopping.co.uk
Finally, remember, our libraries also stock magazines too, so perhaps you would consider buying a gift subscription for your local library? SUBSCRIBE via this link: www.permaculture.co.uk/content/subscribe-permaculture-magazine-0