#Rally4LoB. The rally in support of Birmingham’s Libraries is at 12 noon on 13th June, with a march along New Street followed by an event outside the Council House in Victoria Square with trades unionists, writers, poets and the Birmingham Clarion Singers.
And what is at stake is not just buildings with books. It is opportunities for learning and creative leisure for everyone in the community. It is the knowledge and expertise that helps enterprise. It is the experiences of school children entering the world of books and learning to educate themselves. It is the archive of the city’s collective memory. It is the precious, irreplaceable special collections. It is the outreach that, by bringing books to a housebound person, can help them to connect with the whole world. It is the skills and knowledge of the librarians, without whom the libraries are reduced to book self-storage depots. Librarians cannot be replaced by automated book issue. Libraries cannot exist as vending machines.
It’s nearly the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. Were guns that won that battle made in the Gun Quarter? Were coins that paid the troops, or the medals they proudly wore, struck in the Birmingham Mint? In the Industrial Revolution, Birmingham gave the world steam-powered mass production, Baskerville typeface, gas lighting, electroplating, steel pens, and just about anything that it was possible to make out of metal. It’s a city that has never stood still, has always reinvented itself. And now, Birmingham teeters on the edge of erasing its own history. Here’s a link to a brilliant blog post on the importance of libraries and archives in our great city:
“We come together and build libraries and archives because the past is bigger than any us. What do we do when the institutions that we build are taken away? Birmingham Archives, Heritage & Photography has recognised that an archive is a collaboration, built together by citizens, demonstrated by the years of valuable outreach work that has been done …we are at risk of writing Birmingham out of UK and world history – is that really what we want?”