Library funding is dropping. Apart from a few forward-thinking politicians no one in Government at any level is giving them the support they need to achieve even a bare fraction of their potential. With austerity the byword of the day, this negative trend increases because libraries do not make money. But neither does criminal justice or the armed forces; but we do not cut them. Whether or not you agree with the use of force, it is clear that money is not the only measure of political worth.
This video is not new, but it does make a trenchant point. Libraries cut crime.
While some crime is due to extreme circumstance or a genuine disagreement over rights, many crimes are committed due to relative deprivation. This is usually a disparity in material possessions: everyone else has the latest mp3 playing transparent aluminium trainers, so I must have them as well. But this can also be emotional: other people have exciting lives, so I must make my life exciting too. By reducing intellectual deprivation, libraries reduce crime.
Weak on Libraries is Weak on Crime.
Following the chain further, today’s military uses high-tech vehicles, sensors, robots, body-armour, and a myriad other tools that were developed by educated people. Without libraries to nurture and support the curious, only those from families rich enough to send them to good schools and buy them books that look vaguely interesting will have an easy path to innovation. History shows that this is not a total barrier to the less privileged, but it will slow them down, cutting into the time they can spend designing the next generation of tools. By increasing access to knowledge, libraries provide new equipment to the military.
Weak on Libraries is Weak on National Defence.
Of course these are just proofs that libraries advance two aspects of government that not expected to be profitable. The real strength of libraries is in the potential to move beyond the use of force toward a world where it is less necessary (or even unnecessary). By giving the whole population not only theoretical access to knowledge but also professionals skilled in assisting everyone, whatever their ability to articulate complex queries, to find what they seek we improve education, innovation, and empathy. By having professionals who not only help people find what they ask for, but can suggest books people did not realise existed we no longer lose skilled individuals merely because they did not realise their area of expertise existed.
Weak on Libraries is Weak, Weak, Weak.