Libraries vital for nation's happiness, says Archbishop

Libraries vital for nation's happiness, says Archbishop

The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams criticised library closures during his Easter Sermon, delivered at the weekend.

Speaking on the wider topic of happiness—which is to be the subject of the first "happiness index", conducted by the Office for National Statistics—the Archbishop reflected on a recent stop-off at a local library on a "rather devastated" Manchester council estate. Williams said his visit had "revealed a lively group of teenagers who were regular users, welcomed by staff, glad of a place to do homework, gossip and feel secure."

The Archbishop continued: "Space, opportunity, the time to discover a larger world to live in—where are the clearly articulated priorities in public discussion that would spotlight all this, so as to make us think twice before dismantling what's already there and disappointing more hopes for the future?"

He concluded: "Talk about the happiness of the nation isn't going to mean much unless we listen to some of these simple aspirations—aspirations, essentially, for places, provisions or situations which help you lay aside anxiety and discover dimensions of yourself otherwise hidden or buried."

The full speech can be read here.