Letters - Saturday March 6, 2021

Use our libraries or we will lose them

Saturday, 6th March 2021, 7:30 am
See letter from Dr Barry Clayton

Our public libraries have for some time been threatened with closure owing to the sharp fall in their use. Many only survive by their fingertips by offering many diverse services. Over 840 libraries have been closed in the past ten years. The Sword of Damocles is ever present. Yet the public express outrage if they are closed.

The major decline in reading has become increasingly alarming, indeed shocking. A generation is growing up that regards reading books with disdain and unnecessary. The reasons why are many and varied. The following are some.

At GCSE and A-level in subjects such as history and the social sciences the use of books is in sharp decline.

Studies show it is not in the least uncommon, for example, for an A-level history student to study for two years and never read a single history book. Teacher’s photocopied handouts and the internet have replaced them.

I know of universities where undergraduates studying the humanities and social sciences increasingly use the internet to avoid what many now regard as the tiresome business of studying books.

As a result, graduates leave lacking exposure to the great writings of the past and present.

Another reason is we are losing the habit of reading, preferring the effortless watching of television and becoming addicted to social media; both requiring far less effort than reading.

The closure of many high street bookshops owing to a drop in demand is yet another reason. Hopefully those remaining will reopen from April 12.

During lockdown, libraries have done a wonderful job and remained open albeit with a reduced service.

Yet, sadly, despite people having more spare time on their hands, demand for books has still been low.

Libraries are key community hubs and places where information is available in many forms. They are an important free source of connection to a vast world of knowledge, understanding and entertainment. As such they are a vital part of our society.

In addition, they allow us to replace fake news, and disinformation, as well as combat intolerance and ignorance, with facts. They are places where children can learn about and experience the sheer joy of reading, a skill that has a major beneficial effect on grammar, spelling and punctuation.

Neuroscientists have shown how reading books: sharpens the mind, improves your memory, increases your vocabulary, decreases stress and depression, aids sleep, improves your writing, and is very entertaining.

Our public libraries are free. They contribute to education, community cohesion, health and well-being. It is therefore vital that we ensure their survival by using their excellent facilities.

Libraries and their staff are among the unsung heroes of our community. Use them or we will surely lose them.

Dr Barry Clayton

Thornton Cleveleys

Health

Stop baseless lies about NHS sell-off

Sadly, once again Chris Webb is claiming the NHS is being “sold off” (Your Say, March 2).

Blackpool South MP Scott Benton was absolutely right to dismiss these ridiculous claims as lies, as they are lies. The NHS is not being privatised and there are no plans to do so.

Mr Webb should check his facts before making accusations.

The fact is that most GP practices are already private practices and this has always been the case. They own the buildings and employ staff but they are providing NHS services.

Primary care has always been a private business and this takeover by an American company is simply a change in management. It is not selling off our NHS as Labour falsely claimed in the last election.

The Conservatives completely support the GPs and their teams and all NHS staff for all their hard work during the pandemic and the ongoing vaccination programme which is well under way and as an ICU nurse myself I continue to work on the Covid frontline.

I wish Labour would stop treating the NHS as a political football and stop trying to scaremonger and mislead the public with these baseless lies that the NHS is being sold off.

Coun Christian Cox

Blackpool

Media

So, what is BBC’s definition of quality?

Former BBC director general, Tony Hall, justified the withdrawal of the over 75s TV licence fee exemption by saying it was essential in order to maintain quality programmes.

Since his retirement, repeats have continued apace and, as an example, the Beatles (albeit excellent) film A Hard Day’s Night was shown twice on two different BBC channels.

As for investment in quality programmes, what do we now have? The Wall with Danny Dyer and Gordon Ramsay’s Bank Balance are just two further examples of expensive BBC ‘barrel bottom scraping’.

I think the BBC’s definition of service and quality differs somewhat to that of the senior citizens robbed of their exemption.

Then there is the BBC’s own self-indulgent extravagance, especially in news broadcasting. Despite many complaints from viewers, the BBC still believes it right to pay well over the national average salary for someone to sit and read from an autocue to camera.

Then how about the daftness of having reporters chatting from outside 10 Downing Street, Westminster, or a dozen other outsidebroadcast locations when there is clearly no reason for them to be there.

Further BBC profligacy is the “parachuting in” of a national “name” to report on an incident outside the London orbit.

Whatever happened to the concept promoted not that long ago to the public that “it’s your BBC”? It clearly isn’t, it belongs to the BBC mafia which believes it knows better than the public which pays for it and to whom the BBC has a duty to serve.

Stan Hardy

address supplied