I love my local library. Sandbach library is part of the Cheshire East library district, and I have nothing but good things to say about them. Or at least I did until today. Today they’ve managed to make me really cross, and I just have to vent.
The geekdaughter has been a member of the library since before she was 6 months old. The library is about a 20 minute walk from my house, and there were many days when the only way I could stop her crying was to put her in the pram and take a walk. Frequently we ended up in the library, and we enjoyed choosing new books and reading them at home. I remember the first day I let her out of the pram to run around in the children’s books section – I expected chaos, and whilst she did want to pull a few books off the shelves she was much better behaved than I thought she would be.
Since the geekdaughter was little, our library has been running a “Rhyme Time” event. This is a free event for Mums and babies. A thirty minute session where we sing nursery rhymes together, and the children get the chance to play some percussion instruments. It used to be held once a month, but recently has been growing in popularity, and in the latter part of last year it was moved to a weekly slot. Every Wednesday morning, after the geekson has gone down for his morning nap, the geekdaughter and I head out to the library. We love the singing, sometimes she even dances! We get a sticker for our Bookstart Book Crawl card, we choose some new books to borrow, and we’re home in time for lunch.
Rhyme Time was originally run out on the library floor, but as it grew in popularity it was moved, first to the upstairs area, and then just before Christmas into the meeting room. The last couple of weeks there have not been enough chairs for everyone to sit down, and people have been sitting on the floor or standing at the back. This is a popular, popular event, and is successfully bringing people into our local library. I love it so much that I’m even trying to work out how I can arrange to continue to attend after my maternity leave ends in June!!
Now let me tell you about Bob (not his real name). Bob is the heart and soul of our Rhyme Time. Bob is a librarian who plays the guitar, can command the attention of a room full of Mums and babes, who clearly loves running the sessions, encourages the kids to have a go on his guitar at the end, is always happy, always smiling. He is diligent, and clearly cares about the success of both Rhyme Time and our library as a whole. I think Bob is a big part of why our Rhyme Time is so successful.
So I was really very sad to hear that Bob would be leaving our library. But what has made me most sad is the reason for his departure. It’s not because he’s got a promotion, or because he wants to move his career in a different direction.
No. It’s all down to the fact that Bob’s wife also works at our library. And apparently some Council worker somewhere has pointed out that there is some rule that says married couples can not work at the same location. So Bob is being shipped out to another library. Because he works with the woman he’s married to.
I know this doesn’t necessarily mean the end of our Rhyme Time. But I worry. I worry that it won’t be the same, that it won’t be as good. In a time when libraries are struggling to get readers through the door, when libraries are under threat of closure, here is a library that is setting a standard, doing really well, and providing the services that local people want. In fact, last week there was a little poster up announcing that Cheshire East libraries are currently lending more books than any other library district in the country. And some “Jobsworth” in an office somewhere has said it can’t continue because of some stupid, archaic rule. Come on people, we’re in the 21st Century! Take a step back for a minute, realise how ludicrous this is, and do the right thing.