Libraries are something dear to my heart, like schools, hospitals, a government run post service and a list of other things that I can’t think of. While I believe that markets are necessary for wealth, I don’t believe that these things should interfere in libraries, or anything for the ‘public good’.
I’m inspired by a wonderful article by the author Philip Pullman Leave the Libraries alone
The public library, again. Yes, I’m writing a book, Mr Mitchell, and yes, I hope it’ll make some money. But I’m not praising the public library service for money. 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 in a town or a city 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.
There are things above mere profit. There are things that are useless – that don’t make a profit. Oscar Wilde once said ‘all of art is useless’ and I think some things in Science are useless, certainly a lot of the Mathematics I research is absolutely Pure. This is ok, because sometimes things that we do as human beings don’t have to be useful. Love after all seems like such a waste of time when you think about it, but what would a world be without that…
Some things are best divorced from profit, and lets keep it that way. The goal of a government should not be to placate the market, but to govern. Napoleon stated that ‘to govern is to decide’ and I feel strongly that to decide to get rid of libraries is a morally vacuous decision.
Earlier this week I read an article by a German Studies Professor called Steven Brockman, he wrote the following:
‘In our culture we know quite well what that is: the belief in money, in business, in economics, and in popular culture. That is our real religion,’
Libraries are not popular culture, nor do they survive when subjected to market fundamentalism, but thats not the point. Even if a Scientific work, a humanistic text or a novel doesn’t generate a profit it doesn’t make it worthless.