Laura Swaffield, Chair of The Library Campaign, was asked for an off the cuff comment on the novel approaches being planned in Midlothian Libraries on 2nd February, which is Love Your Library Day in Scotland, though given little information about the activities on offer.
The activities planned, including what some papers are referring to as ‘pole-dancing classes’ and table tennis using books in place of bats, have not only raised eyebrows but certainly got a lot of people talking. The ‘pole-dancing’ is little more that a one-off fitness session on offer to over 16s in a single library on the day. Other activities planned are Scottish country dancing, workshops for would-be authors, X-box competitions to engage youth and their parents, and musical performances.
The story has been covered in The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Scotsman and today in The Independent so the novelty of the activities has certainly grabbed a great deal of publicity! You can read the articles via the links below:
DAILY TELEGRAPH : 18th January
Library under fire after offering free pole-dancing lessons to encourage users
THE GUARDIAN : 18th January
Library turns to pole dancing to entice new readers
The SCOTSMAN : 18th January
Plan to encourage people to visit library by offering pole fitness session among books
The INDEPENDENT: 19th January
Scottish library offers pole-dancing lessons
“I’d like to reassure members of the Library Campaign that I haven’t really turned into Lady Bracknell, as quoted.
For instance, I’d reserve ‘absolutely appalled’ as a comment on the fact that 200 public libraries were lost last year and another 300 are likely to go this year.
Even using books as bats looks acceptable compared to that.
The Library Campaign is very clear that we support local groups, in what ever they feel best meets local needs, and do not sit in judgement. The concept of using books as bats does seem a little far fetched and some will see it as showing little regard to the mainstay of libraries – the precious and varied book stock within. The details are sketchy and the books may not even be intended to be used as physical bats or they may be mock ups or even written-off stock.
The choice of activities has certainly got Midlothian Libraries an awful lot of attention in a very short space of time across the UK and if that draws in more people, allowing the service to shake off a stuffy image or attract people who would not usually use libraries that can only be a good thing.
What do you think?