We have a health service on the brink of collapse. A police service falling apart. Practically every public service under-resourced and over-stretching. Burned-out underpaid workers. And just for good measure the ecological collapse of the largest lough in the UK and Ireland. Political Scientists have a technical term for this situation – ‘being absolutely f*cked’.
But every day brings a new low, a fresh reason to pull the duvet over your head and stay in bed. Today it is the turn of the library service. Northern Ireland’s library service does not have the money to buy any new books this year or next year. Yes, we can’t even afford to buy books, how humiliating.
Sure, why do we need books anyway? Can’t you just google everything? Aren’t all the young people just glued to their phones watching an algorithmic smorgasbord of dopamine hits on Tiktok? Maybe we need to learn into ignorance and embrace it. Sure what have books ever done for anyone? Where does all that learning get you? What use is escaping to a world of fiction to you when you could be binging on social media?
You may detect a hit of sarcasm in the above paragraph. A society that forgoes knowledge, learning and understanding is a society that is circling the plug hole.
Many people do not know that your local library will accept book donations. So when you are finishing reading your new book, please donate it. Every donation stands against those who want us to be ignorant obedient consumers.
In comparison here is a photo I took of the library in Sligo Town. It is set in a beautiful old converted church. It features a prominent mural of ‘The Battle of the Book’. From Wikipedia:
According to O’Donnell, sometime around 560, the Irish abbot and missionary Saint Columba became involved in a quarrel with Saint Finnian of Movilla Abbey over a psalter (traditionally said to be the Cathach of St. Columba). Columba copied the manuscript at the scriptorium under Saint Finnian, intending to keep the copy. Saint Finnian disputed his right to keep the copy. Thus, this dispute was about the ownership of the copy (whether it belonged to Saint Columba because he copied it or whether it belonged to Saint Finnian because he owned the original). King Diarmait mac Cerbaill gave the judgement, “To every cow belongs her calf, therefore to every book belongs its copy.”
Columba disagreed with King Diarmait’s ruling against him and reportedly instigated a successful rebellion of the Uí Néill clan against the King. The battle was claimed to have caused around 3,000 casualties.
They took learning seriously back in the day.
Sligo Library had no shortage of new books. Imagine a society that still values books and learning. Maybe Libraries Ireland will take pity on us and let us have some of their books when they are done with them.
I help to manage Slugger by taking care of the site as well as running our live events. My background is in business, marketing and IT. My politics tend towards middle-of-the-road pragmatism, I am not a member of any political party. Oddly for a member of the Slugger team, I am not that interested in daily politics, preferring to write about big ideas in society. When not stuck in front of a screen, I am a parkrun Run Director.