Why we need libraries

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Bednarik, Ignat (1882-1963)Here’s something to keep in mind the next time someone asks you why we still need publicly funded libraries, particularly in economically-challenged rural areas:

“A major study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows how England’s 16 to 24-year-olds are falling behind their Asian and European counterparts. England is 22nd for literacy and 21st for numeracy out of 24 countries. The OECD’s Andreas Schleicher warned of a shrinking pool of skilled workers.

Girl Studying by Susan MacDowell Eakins“Unlike other developed countries, the study also showed that young people in England are no better at these tests than older people, in the 55 to 65 age range. When this is weighted with other factors, such as the socio-economic background of people taking the test, it shows that England is the only country in the survey where results are going backwards — with the older cohort better than the younger.

“Neil Carberry, the CBI’s director for employment and skills, said the UK’s economic future depended on improving the skills of the workforce. ‘This survey simply emphasises that the UK cannot afford to stand still on skills.’

“Ian Brinkley, director at the Work Foundation think tank, said the study showed the UK faced a relative decline in the economy’s skills base. ‘We face a major generational challenge.’

— Sean Coughlan, BBC News. Read the full article here.

Art by Ignat Bednarik (1882-1963) and Susan MacDowell Eakins (1851-1938)

We ❤ librarians

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As  many of you know, we circulated a questionaire last month asking for the community’s thoughts about the Chagford Library.

Question 4 was: What do you like best about our library?  The same answer came up again and again: the personal service, warmth, and knowledgeable help provided by our professional librarian, Erica Loram.

So here’s to you, Erica, for all that you do to champion reading, to promote life-long learning, to help people access health information and IT services, and to support our community — from the youngest kids to the oldest seniors — in so many important ways.

“Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.” – Neil Gaiman

Good news!

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Susan Harley attended last night’s Parish Council meeting on behalf of the Friends of the Chagford Library. She reports: “I am delighted to say that there was a unanimous vote to take the library discussion to the next financial meeting in early July.”

We still have a steep climb ahead of us if we’re to save our library from closure, but having this level of support from our Parish Council is an important step.

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Photographs: Climbing Chagford’s Nattadon Hill on a misty morning.

Why we need libraries

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“Great news for book lovers. The results of a study commissioned by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to measure which activities make us happier are in – and the top joy-inducing spots are occupied by dancing, swimming and…wait for it, wait for it…going to the library. Apparently, the uplift it gives people is equivalent to a £1,359 pay rise.

“I know. It’s fantastic. Faced with figures like that, especially from research it demanded and paid for its very own self, a ministerial department would have to be mad not to look again at any policy that had, since last year, resulted in an estimated 493 libraries around the country being closed, palmed off to volunteers or facing closure.

“It would have to be stuffed to the gills with fools, or people who are so unfeeling that they remain unmoved in the face of increasing, quantifiable human unhappiness.

“Clearly neither of these things can be the case, and yet no U-turn on the municipal budget cuts that have prompted such closures has yet been forthcoming. Curious.”

– Lucy Mangan in The Guardian. Read the full article here.

Kid’s corner

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Wonderland by Adelaide Claxton copy

Did you know that Devon Libraries has an extensive eLibrary of children’s books?

* Go here to review the latest releases or to browse the entire collection.

*Go here for The Zone, a page of book news and book-related activities especially for children.

Art: “Wonderland” by Adelaide Claxton (1840-1900)

Welcome to the website of…

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On this page you’ll find regular updates about our efforts to save Chagford Library from closure — as well as library news, book news, local literary events, and news from the national Library Campaign. The latest posts are below, with further pages of information listed in the column on the left.

You’re welcome to send in material for posting on this site if you live or work in the Chagford area. We’re happy to receive any library or book-related material: book recommendations, publication announcements, literary events, Book Group news, your thoughts about the library, etc.. Submissions from children are welcome too! Go here for the submission address.

Library quotes

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Out of Narnia by Su Blackwell

Libraries are sanctuaries from the world and command centers onto it: here in the quiet rooms are the lives of Crazy Horse and Aung San Suu Kyi, the Hundred Years’ War and the Opium Wars and the Dirty War, the ideas of Simone Weil and Lao-Tzu, information on building your sailboat or dissolving your marriage, fictional worlds and books to equip the reader to reenter the real world.

“They are, ideally, places where nothing happens and where everything that has happened is stored up to be remembered and relived, the place where the world is folded up into boxes of paper. Every book is a door that opens onto another world, which might be the magic that all those children’s books were alluding to, and a library is a Milky Way of worlds.”

Rebecca Solnit (The Faraway Nearby)

The book art above is “Out of Narnia” by Su Blackwell, London.

Parish Council “Save Our Library” Meeting, 28 May, 2014

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Library posterA summary by Peter Shields:

“Many thanks to all who attended the packed ‘Save the Library’ meeting in Endecott House. For those who missed it, the meeting accepted that to keep our library open, the community is going to have to go along with the county’s proposal that we contribute up to half of the cost i.e. raise up to £6,000 a year. This wouldn’t kick in before 2015/16.The meeting was unanimous in rejecting the cheap way out, which is to take over the library and replace the salaried librarian with a roster of volunteers. (That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a role for volunteers to help with ancillary events and activities, but we want the core Librarian functions delivered by a salaried employee.) Ideas for raising the money included: other groups using the library space and contributing some rent; asking the Jubilee Hall to consider reviewing the rent charged; the Parish Council making a contribution, maybe through an increased Parish Precept. There may be support from neighbouring parishes too.

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“What needs to happen now is that the Friends of Chagford Library will call a meeting to establish themselves on a proper footing, elect a committee, etc., then take these and other ideas forward so as to write up a formal response and proposal to the County Council. This doesn’t mean that there’s no place for ‘protest’ about the fact that small communities are being put in this position, and affected groups and individuals can still use the county’s consultation feedback form and questionaire, and write to or email our county councillor James McInnes to convey how they feel.”

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Photographs kindly provided by Simon Blackbourn.