A dream inspired by a BBC news item that many libraries had closed and full-time jobs replaced with volunteers
Was it only a dream? It is still so vivid in my imagination. The doors of the library open, and a man clutching a microphone enters.
Man with microphone: [voice quivering with deep emotional and empathic overtones] Hello. I’m Bertie Mcboatface from the BBC. We are doing a programme on the wonderful and magical places that are our libraries.
Library Assistant: I’m only a volunteer doing Tuesdays and Fridays. We run knitting circles, film nights…
Bertie Mcboatface: Our wonderful and magical tradition of service to others, so admired around the world.
Library Assistant [nervously]: If you wait, I can get the librarian…
Bertie Mcboatface: Books. The evocation of childhood! The smell of furniture polish on the library tables. The touch as you turn the pages over. It makes the hairs ride up at the back of my neck, just thinking of it.
Library Assistant: He’s just attending to another enquiry…
Bertie Mcboatface: The report out today says more than 20% of library jobs have been lost in the last five years. 350 libraries closed, 8000 full time jobs, gone. 25000 volunteers fill in. What would you say to fifty year old Millie from Penzance who has been looking for another job for six months?
Librarian Person [hurrying up]: Thank you, Library Assistant, I will deal with this request. Mr Mcboatface? How may I help?
Bertie Mcboatface: A very good morning to you, Mr Librarian Person. You are live on BBC, talking to millions taking part in our wonderful and magical debate on library closures.
Librarian Person [worried]: Closure? We announced our new opening hours after lengthy consultation.
Bertie Mcboatface: But I noticed you are now a kiddies’ play centre and pensioners drop in centre.
Librarian Person: Yes, we find the integration so rewarding.. We call it our cradle to grave project.
Bertie Mcboatface: Humbling to learn of cradles and graves so beautifully put together. But why no spaces for bicycles outside, or indeed anywhere I could officially have tethered Jessica?
Librarian Person: Jessica?
Bertie Mcboatface: My beautiful Westie. You can see the photograph of us I posted on our website.
Librarian Person, [weakly]: Dogs aren’t allowed, except for guide dogs.
Bertie Mcboatface: We did that topic in our people’s debate recently. Most of our callers said that dogs should be allowed in libraries, shops, public toilets and crematoria.
Librarian Person: [desparately]: Excuse me, there’s something happening outside I must attend to
Bertie Mcboatface: That will be my daughter. I tethered her to no-parking bollard with Jessica, to keep her company. So it’s back to the studio for the weather forecast. Don’t miss next week’s people’s debate: on are people who hire cleaners idle sluts, or the sort of hard working tax payers needed to keep the economy booming?