Thursday, 27 October 2011

The war being waged at my library

My location, being provincial, is not as generously served as some areas. Recently I noticed that proposed cuts in library services in a London borough, Hackney I think, while being vehemently opposed by interested parties and scrutinized in the media would still leave that borough with about four times the per capita library facilities that we enjoy here. Such asymmetric allocation of state funding is the main reason my disillusion over the concept of collective benefit has grown so strong.

Now my taste in literature is eclectic, an attribute I acquired from the second hand book stall that used to grace our market. It's marvelous what the availability of cheap diverse literature can do to dig up the tram lines they lay down in the literary supplements. Alas that stall has been defunct for a long time but my local library had served as a reasonable substitute. A while ago though, I began to notice that increasingly books I'd be looking for would be unavailable either through being absent from the catalogue or missing from the shelves. It was intermittent at first but the frequency of which this occurred increased dramatically. It wasn't until I noticed that books that I'd already read, that were in good condition, had been removed from the catalogue that I began to suspect that arcane forces were at work.

Allan Moore, Richard Matherson, H. Rider Haggard, a few of the authors who've had works removed recently. I was particularly wounded by Moore's removal because his unfettered work had gone some way to instill hope that English cultural life could combat the encroachment of cultural dwarfism. Even though, I should note, that Moore has himself done his bit to advance that phenomenon, albeit possibly inadvertently, when he helped get the ball rolling on the current anti Frank Miller mood. I don't have to look far to find an element of commonality between the works that are being withheld. They all share the property that I call, guy stuff, by that I mean works which give insight into masculine life. How many men do you think work at my local library? Here's a clue, it's somewhere between zero and naught and yet amongst the women who work there diverse minorities are represented, coincidence? I wonder...

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