Liberate the library

This attack on one of the last sanctuaries of sanity on the island (see http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/education/children-watching-porn-and-playing-violent-video-games-at-ramsey-library-1-7220628 ) alternately has me laughing out loud and shaking my head in disbelief.

From the tone of the complainant’s initial whinge I had assumed her to be elderly, somewhat out of touch with the real world and associated with some dismal fundamentalist outfit, probably also sectarian. Her consequent comments in response to others by people who mostly appear quite retarded suggest yet another small town prodnose with nothing to do and all day to do it. I now know she is far younger than me, but I was right on all the rest. Which made me laugh even more.

As I am at least a weekly visitor to that library, know the place and the regular inhabitants inside out and, while not a computer game nerd, at least know and see enough of them to have a vague idea what is normal game content I can also say with absolute conviction that the complainant is either very, very deluded and naive, or lying, or both.

Or possibly she just knows that a fundamentalist church wants fresh young blood for an ‘after-school club’ and is angling for government money to subsidise it. Possibly even the one run by the sectarian bigot who actually got banned from a chip shop (after going in there to scream abuse at a girl who refused his ‘help’ when one of his star pupils got her pregnant). It would fit a depressingly familiar pattern in Ramsey.

But enough of such halfwits.

By comparison I could not help remembering my own childhood experience in the library of the quiet steel and coal-mining county town where I grew up, which was probably one of the most liberating and educational influences of my life. There, at 12, I was able to access material not taught at school – D.H. Lawrence, Henry Miller (I’d read their entire works before I was 14, and librarians even told me which ones I might have missed), the surrealists, the autobiography of Leadbelly, the legendary blues singer, books about gangsters and serial killers… in short, quite a lot of things this drab sourpuss thinks would corrupt a young mind.

They did not. While I freely admit I have spent much of my life around those the dull (or just braindead) regard as criminals or degenerates, neither I (nor they) have preyed on or murdered children or knowingly destroyed the lives of other vulnerable people. Neither have any of the kids from extremely deprived homes I knew in that era.

By comparison, at least one ‘respectable’ town elder who tormented us as children was later convicted for offences against children, and others drifted from mainstream Christianity mixed with weekends quaffing sherry at the local Conservative association to ever more bizarre religious and/or neo-nazi cults.

Knowing that, I vehemently oppose anything which takes away the slim chance of kids from homes with no books being in a place full of books which they might just go on to read. Might the poor, misguided souls spend a little longer on a PC shoot-em-up than is wise? Who cares as long as they feel safe in the one place where they are surrounded by millions of books and will, eventually, go and look at some?

Why should libraries revolve around or be solely available for upper middle class older people? The Ramsey ‘When-I’s’ have had a lifetime to discover and still never got past a handful of dreary criminals against the written word who, in any country with a serious interest in the arts, would be lined up against a wall and shot.

As a proper writer whose work I was delighted to discover in Ramsey Library once said: “We are threatened by a Moron Majority committed to enforcing their stupid, bestial, bigoted opinions on everybody else.”

In Ramsey this is very true. Which makes it all the more important to laugh the imbeciles out of the library, and right out of town.

Update

I was in the library this morning, and what a depressing sight.

Formerly, there was a small bank of computers downstairs by the door, and another upstairs in the reference library – most frequently used by a cheerfully loud Age Concern computer group and at other times by kids who can’t get on downstairs (and who, incidentally, I have not once seen misusing them or had reason to ask to be quieter).

The upstairs computer bank has been removed, there is a large notice downstairs saying anyone under 12 must be accompanied by an adult and there is not a child in sight outside the story-reading session for tinies in the junior library. Normally on a wet day there would be kids on computers downstairs and wandering round both floors. Today all the computers are being used by lemon-sucking ‘When-I’s’ who show no sign of giving them up to anyone soon.

In short, thanks to one sanctimonious cow’s unproven accusations, the place looks more like a Wee Free convention than a local authority education facility.

Victory for the miserablists? Not if I can help it.

This argument is SO not over, unless the Commissioners want to think about twinning Ramsey with Chernobyl.

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