Sunday, 17 May 2015

Save Your Library

It was my niece’s 1st birthday last week, bless her! My sister had arranged a little do at the Newbridge Memo. Stepping away from the cuteness of babies, I started to walk around the building. With Newbridge being our hometown, I think its safe to say that it is dear to lots of people. I hadn't explored it properly since its recent refurbishment, the library, ballroom and cinema is brilliant. I would urge anyone to go there and support it. They have done a great job.

Walking around I saw this poem on the landing heading up to the first floor.

We do not ask you to remember us, 
you have your lives to live as we had ours,
and ours we spent on life not memory.
We only ask you this - that you live well, 
here, in the places that our labour built,
here, beneath the sky we seldom saw, 
here, on the green earth whose black vein we mined 
and feel the freedom that we could not find. 

The Memo, was built and run by miners who felt they had a responsibility to educate the community they lived in; they didn't have universal education back then. Many Stutes, Libraries and Community Centres have been created for this reason.

So, are we free?

Here are some fancy stats for you, the 2010 National Survey of Adult (16-65) Skills in Wales showed that 51 per cent of adults were assessed to have Entry Level or below numeracy, 12 per cent of adults were assessed to have Entry Level or below literacy, and surprise surprise literacy and numeracy levels were lower among the unemployed.

We live in a society in which the necessity to have basic numeracy and literacy is essential in order to work and live. The library is a place for personal study, applying for jobs, free books to lend if you can't afford them, using computers, taking the kids, having a quiet half hour, finding out about local services. A way of keeping a society down is by leaving people to remain uneducated. Freedom is found through equality; an educated society is a more equal society. As you can see from the statistics, people at the bottom remain to be left behind. What are we and the local Council going to do about this? 

Well for starters, the Cardiff Council in which I live under at the moment, thinks the best idea is to close Roath Library….you what?! They have also thought the best course of action to take is to cut 90% of Youth Work in Cardiff.

The council want to tackle this literacy inequality by closing a free establishment that allows people from all backgrounds to develop their skills, skills like, oh I don’t know, LITERACY through having access to a plethora of knowledge and wisdom at their feet. Whilst doing this, they have also cut a service that focuses on facilitating personal, social and educational growth in young people to help them reach their full potential in society.

This is crazy talk. I found out yesterday at the brilliant anti-austerity march in Cardiff, (run by Cardiff’s People’s Assembly, links below) that activists have been campaigning very hard to prevent the closure of Cardiff libraries, they thought they had won until Cardiff Council went back on their word just after the election.

Closing this library and putting others in jeopardy would be failing the dreams of so many working people before us. Generations of ordinary people, who hoped that one day, people could live freely and live well. Closing an educative building that enables people to do so is a disgrace.

A Mass Read-In-Protest has been organised to take place on Wednesday 20th May at 6pm at Roath Library. I hope that people from Cardiff and beyond will support this. People are being robbed in front of our eyes, we have to protect and reclaim what is ours.

Save Roath Library! - Mass Read-In Protest -

Cardiff People’s Assembly -

Newbridge Memo -

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