SHHH, BE QUIET! (Reflective prose about library closures, Arts Council England & middle-class asset stripping.)

This is my attempt to reflect upon the closure of libraries in the UK under a rainbow cloak of austerity provided by propaganda from the Arts Council England...  Rough and straight off the page...

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SHHH, BE QUIET!

 

Books.


Tattered, battered,

Drawn upon.

Pages infuriatingly missing.

 

Plastic armour

Protected them.

Or so we thought.

 

Shhh, the women and men said then.

But we took little notice.

 

Laughing,

Borrowing,

Bringing back.

 

Carefully thumbed.

Usually unscathed,

Or Sellotape repaired.

 

Shhh!

 

But we weren’t quiet.

And they were

Ok with that;

With us.

 

Because we loved books.

We loved our library.

It was ours.

 

It was there

For us.

Always there for us.

 

Or so we thought.

‘Til they said, “NO!”

 

“No,” to councils,

“No,” to librarians,

“No,” to us.

 

All those years

Of history,

Of philanthropy,

Of Mining and Mechanics Institutes.

 

All those years

Of paying taxes

For public services,

For our libraries.

...

 

They swept our pasts

And our presents

Away!

...

 

Shhh, be quiet!

 

Austerity,

They say.

 

Shhh, be quiet!

 

Less is more,

They say.

 

Shhh, be quiet!

 

Chip in,

Volunteer!

They say.

 

Shhh, be quiet!

 

No need for

Tutting librarians.

They say.

 

Shhh, be quiet!

 

Art and

Culture.

Tech hubs,

Not books.

 

We’re investing,

Not closing.

Honest.

 

SHHH!

 

They’re fun now,

Child-friendly.

Better.

 

BE QUIET!

 

Arts companies IN.

Librarians and local councils OUT!

 

SHHH, BE QUIET!

 

But libraries are ours.

They were for us.

We paid for them.

 

They formed and held

Our hopes and dreams.

 

WE PAID FOR THEM!

 

Shhh, be quiet!

 

NO!

 

They are stripping

Our assets,

Our communities.

 

From community library

To Arts Centre,

They are transferring

Our assets

To the “cultured” middle-classes,

Courtesy of Arts Council England.

 

SHHH, BE QUIET!

 

NO!

 

YOU
ARE
CLOSING
ALL
OUR
LIBRARIES.

 

Their smiling “culture”

Invades our spaces.

 

Vultures.

They feed on our communities.

Devour our welfare state.

 

WE MUST NOT BE QUIET!

Save our libraries.

Save our public services.

WE WILL NOT BE QUIET!