The cuts to library services that Alan Gibbons and others have been valiantly fighting in England for so long have arrived with a vengeance in Wales.
Councils are under the cosh so where do they look for huge savings....library services. Everywhere I go from Port Talbot to Penrhiwceiber libraries are exposed as outdated, dusty, silent spaces that can face the axe because, let's face it, nobody's going to speak out in libraries are they?
But it is time to make some noise. Dylan Thomas once said:
'My education was the ability I had to read indiscriminately and all the time, with my eyes hanging out'
They also say a child that grows up in an environment where there are 500 books will grow up reading for pleasure. Not all homes have 500 books......but libraries provide that environment. Recent research demonstrated that children who read for pleasure outstrip others in Maths....the benefits of reading for pleasure are not just arts based.
The country that tops the much maligned PISA rankings (world league tables for a nation's educational performance) is South Korea which has a programme to build 180 new libraries. Finland also features strongly and has worked hard to build reading performance in youngsters during the 1990's with library services as a vital component.
Nobody is saying libraries should not evolve and change, embracing new technologies, becoming cultural community hubs, performance spaces,coffee shops and debating points but if we allow them to disappear they may never return.
We're all struggling with the cuts and austerity measures and, it seems, we have to rely on Russell Brand to make bold, radical suggestions to the shake up the Newsnight consensus. But I'll have a go too:
The total personal wealth of the UK is £9000 billion a sum that dwarves the National Debt and the richest 10% own £4000 billion with an average per household of £4 million.
The bottom half of our society own just 9% of the wealth.
A one off tax of just 20% on the wealth of the richest group would pay off the National Debt.
The importance of libraries............it's not rocket science
Paying off the National Debt...........it's not rocket science