From Across the Pond..

From the BBC News Magazine:

I live with the tensions between the world out there I want to see and even contemplate, and the inner world to which the book gives me access. It is the inner rewards of reading a book in a private and concentrated way that lead you into realms of your own imagination and thought that no other process offers. Something happens between the words and the brain that is unique to the moment and to your own sensibilities.

It is why, at such moments, it is so awful to be interrupted – and why I am frequently late at meetings because I find it hard to tear myself away. Any society that doesn’t value the richness of this encounter with ideas and the imagination will impoverish its citizens.

The author, broadcaster Joan Bakewell, discusses the deep cuts to government spending that being discussed over in the UK. This includes the closing of 130 libraries in London as well as in other parts of the country. Her overall concern is on the value of reading and its place in the public discourse as well as society at large. In closing libraries, Mrs. Bakewell worries about the future for the upcoming generations. It’s a nice “feel good” read, though for me it lacks the push for specific action that this issue really needs. Awareness is certainly important, but providing the first step as to remedy the situation is what gets movements rolling. However, I believe that is where my esteemed UK colleagues can pick up the message from there.

Best quote of the commentary:

My defence should not be seen as the attempt merely to rescue a small building in a particular borough, or any other particular places threatened with closure. Rather it is a rallying call for the concept of free libraries. In our culture the library stands as tall and as significant as a parish church or the finest cathedral. It goes back to the times when ideas first began to circulate in the known world. I worry where wisdom will come from.

You can also hear her read the commentary.

6 thoughts on “From Across the Pond..

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention From Across the Pond.. « Agnostic, Maybe -- Topsy.com

  2. “…lacks the push for specific action that this issue really needs”

    Ah, you don’t get the context or the culture. It’s a Radio Four ten minute piece. Radio four is classically middle to upper middle class (remember our class system is markedly different to the US one), and you wouldn’t get such a push on here. More of a thoughtful, introspective piece. Which also befits the person who wrote and read it.

    As an example and counter point, if Socialist Worker:

    http://www.socialistworker.org.uk/

    …ran a piece on libraries, the readership would not expect an introspective piece, but instead would expect a call for violent direct action.

    We’ll take a broad coalition of people, classes and groups, doing their bit in the way which suits them and their audience / followers, in this war on public libraries. For it is a war.

  3. I was puzzled to read the title page ‘Across the Pond’ and wondered what it meant. I was told it meant the USA. I am befuddled and angry at the BBC’s obsession with America and particularly Woman’s Hour’s obesession with spoiled, rich American women.
    I would like to remind the BBC staff that they live out of the pockets of the British taxpayer. If they want to live vicariously in America without the scafflod of British society there is nothing to stop them moving there.
    There is a world to explore and (I hate to remind them) poor starving people all over the world who need publicity, not just rich Americans who ‘have made it’.
    Why not privatise the BBC and let us see how they cope in the real world the rest of us have to live in.

  4. Hi Bri,

    I was ‘befuddled’ at your inaccurate rant. A few corrections:

    I would like to remind the BBC staff

    Um, I don’t think many of them will read your comment, somehow.

    that they live out of the pockets of the British taxpayer.

    Incorrect. BBC revenue comes from TV license payers (not quite the same as taxpayers) and sales of products and content.

    There is a world to explore and (I hate to remind them) poor starving people all over the world who need publicity, not just rich Americans who ‘have made it’.

    The BBC does excellent world coverage. America is part of that world. As are many, many other countries which the BBC features. One recent example of countless many; the extensive coverage that the BBC gave to the floods in Pakistan, earlier in the year. Substantially more coverage than ‘commercial’ TV channels gave.

    Why not privatise the BBC and let us see how they cope in the real world the rest of us have to live in.

    That’s a world where people like Kay Burley are the epitome of TV journalism and presenting? No thanks; I’ll go for the quality and unbiased reporting that the BBC provides. Of the world.

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