Caitlin Moran has written about austerity and libraries in her column for the Times Magazine in which she has said libraries are being starved of funding so they will become "weak mutant ghosts."
In the piece, she recounts her recent visit to the library that was local to her as a child, Warstones Library in Wolverhampton. There she found “everything had gone – or near enough to make no difference. Most of the shelving was gone; all that was left were racks of Andy McNab and Fifty Shades, and rip-offs of Fifty Shades. So few books. Weepingly few books.”
She reminisces about how “that place was rammed full of every and any kind of book you could think of” and contrasts it with the present, “to the side, a single, lonely carousel labelled “Classics”… and, by the door, old books piled high, for sale: the history books, the maps, the novels and poetry.”
Moran has written about Warstones Library before, in a column titled ‘Libraries: Cathedrals of our Souls’ for the Times, which was also included in her collection of essays, Moranthology (Ebury Press). In that piece, she wrote: “everything I am is based on this ugly building on its lonely lawn”.
In her latest column, she counters the argument that “we have no need for reference books any more, now that we have the internet”, highlighting that not everyone has access to the internet and claiming that “a search engine will just show you what is most popular, rather than what is best”, leading to “a mono-knowledge”. She also states that filling a library with only popular books “takes out its intelligence and knowledge”, meaning that no one will fight for it not to close in the next round of austerity cuts.
Moran finishes with a call to arms, writing: “This is a tactic we must all grow furious about. That when something cannot be axed straight away – because it is important, because it is loved, because people protest – that thing is then starved or bled until it is a weak, mutant ghost. Until no one wishes to defend it. Until no one can defend it, because all the words they could have learnt and used are now heaped up by the door, for sale.”
Moran’s column comes just a couple of weeks after Speak Up For Libraries, an umbrella organisation for library campaigners, launched a manifesto calling on library users to make public libraries a central issue ahead of the general election.
As well as writing about libraries, Moran also signed a petition against Liverpool Council’s planned closure of 11 out of its 19 libraries last year.