I’ve been to a couple of meetings recently where people (who, in my view, should have known better!) have told me that social justice has nothing to do with public libraries – or that public libraries do not have anything to contribute to social justice.
One of them suggested that libraries needed to focus on their “core” service (which, when pressed, he said was book lending and increasing borrower numbers and loans), and that anything else was less important.
Isn’t this a strange argument? I have never quite grasped how someone can differentiate in this way between “core” and non-core services, or why, indeed, this core shouldn’t include social justice.
It would be terrific if a real argument grew up in favour of putting our social justice work at the “core” – and we moved away from seeing libraries in such an old-fashioned way (as I told him!!)
Seriously, this mode of thinking seems to be on the increase, and, as funding for public libraries becomes ever more threatened, there are more & more calls for a return to “basics” – a real danger to community-based approaches, for example.
How do we get the thinking about/understanding of libraries to change?