If you can, listen to this outstanding radio programme from the BBC World Service, 28 minutes about the tiny, rural libraries of New Zealand.
Here on the Isle of Wight, as in almost every area in the UK, and I suspect most of the Western world, local services are being shut in a desperate bid by local government to restrain its overspending. Among the victims are many of the most important cultural and communal functions, such as music education in schools, and public libraries.
These tiny community libraries in New Zealand are themselves under threat, but they bring some important lessons from which we can all learn. Our libraries here were, of course, staffed by graduates with specialist librarian qualifications, at considerable cost. Most of these tiny libraries are run by their communities, using unpaid volunteers, for the local community. Clearly those groups do not see it as someone else’s responsibility to provide for them, they get on and sort the solution themselves.
Or as they so succinctly put it, in such tiny communities, when we want something, we just have to make it so.
Thanks to David Ward for drawing my attention to this wonderful programme.