Thursday 25 February 2010

Low Carbon Loves Part 4

What's next? Libraries! I love libraries. I admit, I am a librarian, but I am writing this from the heart, as a reader. My fiction habit alone would easily bankrupt me in the absence of libraries. When you add to that my cookery book addiction, my love of poetry, and my passion for learning how to do things, its clear that without being able to borrow books, my purse would be a lot lighter and my book shelves a lot heavier.

So why is this green and Transition-y? Well, firstly, I take the books back to the library when I'm done with them, so each book gets read by fifty or a hundred other people- who also don't have to each buy their own copy.

I mentioned learning how to do things: I'm a member of the re-skilling group, with the aim of learning all the skills we'll need in the future Transition is envisaging. In my current pile of library books there is an excellent little book on clothes repair and alterations. These charity shop trousers are a smidgeon too long, and whilst I can take up a hem, I'd like to be able to do it properly so it doesn't show. This page on herringbone stitch should do nicely.

What else have I got out at the moment? A couple of children's books in French, part of my ongoing efforts to learn a language. An issue of GoodFood magazine. Also in the pile is a beautiful book on Moroccan cooking- which provided a recipe for a dried fruit compote with sweet couscous that went down nicely at a recent TN2 meeting. The maps I've borrowed to help me plan the holiday I'm taking in a couple of weeks to Dorset. I've been under the weather the last couple of days and read a lot, I finished off And my see-through heart, Queenpin, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and I'm about to start Allende's Zorro.

And that's before I mention the computers that libraries make available for everybody to use, the newspapers you can sit and read without buying, and all the things libraries do to be a focus for their community: knitting groups, reading groups, free activities for children in school holidays.

Having all these things available to us all to share, for free, seems to me a model of how things could be. Public libraries were largely funded at the outset by the Temperance movement, which wanted to provide for free a warm place for workers to go to that wasn't the pub. Tully blogged at the end of last year about the way all our public places are about consumption, that there's nowhere to go that isn't trying to sell you something. Maybe libraries will be the last warm free place we can go that isn't a shop!

I really believe in libraries. In the future Transition envisages, when we have less money and more need for information, when we can't afford (in more ways than one) for everybody to have their own copy of everything, and we need to be able to fix things, make things and do things, I think we'll need libraries more than ever.

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