Education: The Age of Uncertainty is an impassioned but factual article in today’s Independent about the effect that library closures are having on the elderly, and in particular on members of the University of the Third Age (U3A).
Ian Searle writes:
The mass closure of public libraries is hitting older people and retired people who want to learn and keep their minds active. The sort of learning that goes on in the University of the Third Age (U3A) – the learning that retired people do because they want to do it, not because they need it for their careers – will be worst hit.
It’s a convincing argument, and I hope that the 250,000 members of U3A lobby government to make it strongly, but the specificity of the statement above bothers me: it blurs the effect that the closures will have on everyone else. As I pointed out in a recent entry, my local library at least was full of young people. Learning and the opportunity to gain access to what libraries have to offer – including a quiet and warm place to think – are important at any age, whether you ‘need it for your career’ or not. The concept of a career in itself is fast becoming an anachronism, as people have to adapt to a very unpredictable and insecure job market.