Enjoy this great collaboration and please help us stop the planned closures!
Heritage In Ruins
by Thom Boulton (Blaidh Nemorlith)
Archaic temple, shadow engulfs the explorers,
they, fuelled by spirit of discovery,
arrive in search of legendary structure
that, according to fable,
was once a staple of society, a pillar.
Upon discovering the entrance,
they step inside to dust drenched vault
that such a place once housed the knowledge of
It is nothing more than a tomb for the tome,
a home for rotten paper that sparks image
of deforestation, a cull of trees that were once
ideas, song, and precious gifts to pass along.
It was their inheritance.
Legend states, that whilst the powers that were,
made sure inheritance was financially easier to gain,
they refrained from
protecting the one heirloom, truly of worth.
That, as they hacked away at the hospitals,
choked the institutes of schooling,
whilst all that was happening,
they stole their books from underneath them.
Books they used to make beds
so their imaginations were not sleeping rough.
Texts they wrapped themselves in
when the price of keeping warm was too high.
All the remains, crumbled shreds of civilisation,
once brought so much comfort
for those who depended on it.
Now, where the altars sat,
digital gateways to the web of knowledge,
rests plastic shells filled with rotten wiring.
Explorers continue to walk through the shrine
stepping on the spot where
children used to explore faith in stories,
discover themselves through discovering tales,
but now there is only a stained rug
with clouds of moss forming upon it.
They say that the reason books were made from trees
they were really seeds,
whose words could make a mind grow.
This place is a peeled shell
spiky capsule split open, conkers stolen,
and they blame the collapse of society,
on the spell cast
when they killed the last sanctuaries.
Upon the floor,
one of the explorers spots
perhaps the last relic of that enlightened time,
and upon picking up, wiping the cover,
they translate inscription,
The Time Machine, H.G. Wells
dwells upon them for a moment - if only,
by William Telford
Dupree was lounging on a little sofa thing near the Classics section. He was on page 815 of Anna Karenina when a library staff woman strode up to him, pointed and said, ‘Right buster, we know what you’ve been doing.’
‘Could you elucidate?’ said Dupree, because he had been reading a lot of books.
‘Indubitably,’ the library staff woman answered, because she was also well read. ‘We know you’ve been living in here.’
Dupree looked up from page 815 of Anna Karenina and, blinking like he was in a smoke-filled room, stammered, ‘Wha-what exposed me? Was it the soap and tooth-paste in the men’s WC?’
‘It was the tent,’ said the library staff woman, pointing to the one-person pop-up planted by Health and Wellbeing. ‘So, time to beat it.’
Dupree decided it was also time to quote Cicero. He told he library staff woman that the venerable Roman philosopher had said a room without books was like a body without a soul. And then he’d added that he, Dupree, loved books so much he didn’t want to just live in a room full of them, but a building full of them. He didn’t say he had a large student loan to pay off, no job and had fallen out with his mum over stinking out the house with experimental cooking.
‘It’s nothing personal,’ said the library staff woman. ‘Whole library’s closing. Cut-backs.’
‘Wha-what?’ stammered Dupree. ‘But you can’t, I mean, where are people going to go for education, edification, enlightenment, for succour and cultural sustenance? Plus, I’m only two pages from the end of Anna Karenina.’
‘Whole thing’s going on-line,’ the woman said.
‘Bu-but, you can’t live your life on-line,’ said Dupree, still blinking.
‘Really,’ the woman said, lifting the book from Dupree’s hands and gently easing him up off the sofa, ‘tell that to my ex-husband. Turned out he was also an 18-year-old Italian exchange student called Isabella Rossella.’
She led Dupree to the exit and gently pushed him out. He heard a door click behind him and stood looking at a world grey and cold and noisy and soulless. It was full of ignorance, insouciance, arrogance and, apart from that, was pretty grim. And no one could tell him what happened on the last two pages of Anna Karenina.
Click on the images below to see a bigger version.
(left hand image shows dates and location of public consultations)
(right hand image shows a map of the proposed closures across the city)
What Plymouth writers have to say...
Somewhere In The Neighbourhood
by Kenny Knight
With all the skill
of a waitress
the wind picks Barbara up
travels along Little Dock Lane
at the speed of breath
ruffles the hair of a bookworm
on Ashbridge Gardens.
Somewhere in the neighbourhood
an old-age pensioner
is playing Jimi Hendrix
is paying Council Tax
a bit of this
a bit of VAT.
On Horsham Lane
someone is translating
Marieluise Niehus into Spanish,
Susmita Bhattacharya into Greek,
Sara Elizabeth Smiles into German.
In Tothill and Estover
children are taking home fairy tales
making ten wishes in North Prospect
reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
There should be a library in Whitleigh
a library in Tamerton Foliot
one on Burns Avenue
another on Tennyson Gardens
a third on Dickens Road.
There should be libraries
all over the city
a science-fiction library
in Neptune Park;
school trips to the Moon.
To save money
the City Council should meet
in the old Woodland Fort Library
or down in the dungeons
turn the Council Chambers
and the Council House
into a theme park
fill it with books
fill it with acorns
fill it with every thing
ever read by William Telford
everything ever written
by Andrew Lavender.
Don’t leave the shelves
of Ernesettle and Efford
as empty as a promise
made on election day.
Sell the Lord Mayor’s limousine
invest the windfall
don’t leave Central,
Devonport, St Budeaux,
Plympton and Plymstock
to stand alone
when the Comancheros come calling.
In houses all over town
from Zion Street
to Abbey Place
travellers of the imagination
are setting out
seven nights a week
for places beyond the sofa.
In Laira and West Park
Peverell and Stoke
Notes from Sara Elizabeth Smiles.
She crept down the aisle, running her fingers across dusty spines. Enroute to the children’s section a gold briar rose caught her eye. Stopping; she slid the book out from its neighbours, Selected poetry of Wordsworth. Well, she did like words, was obsessed with syllables even; splitting words down into numbers. Her first name was a two, her middle name a four and her surname was a two; or was it a one? If it was a two, which she suspected then it made it odd.
Made her odd.
Creaking open crusty pages she flicked through until she saw clouds. Ohh clouds. She liked to lay with her sister after tennis watching them dance across the fields, making daisy chains as a misty Pegasus galloped across the horizon.
‘I wandered lonely as a cloud,’ she read
Oh this is me. I do this. I’m a cloud, through my books I can make a bubble and worlds unfold.
by Dan Morgan (Dorian Sounde)
Dear residents of Plymouth,
you are hereby notified
that a few of the City's Public Houses will be closed,
their stocks dissolved,
and their services moved to an online platform.
Please note, we are not closing all
of your watering holes,
just the ones that we feel are an eye-sore,
or in under-funded areas of the City.
This is a temporary trial over the course of 6 months,
and if successful (success is inevitable)
the closure of the remaining Public Houses
Your favourite beverages,
and a set-menu of entrees
will be available online,
on an all-new, exciting,
single operating platform, and,
for a monthly subscription fee,
we can send an agent to your door,
with the fine scent of musk and
to give your carpets that authentic, sticky touch.
Tips for the online host are now mandatory.
This is the future,
get on-board with it.
Forget all you know about human interaction,
it's time to live through a screen,
no laminated card required,
all interactions will be electronic.
Let's face it; money is just electronic numbers,
books are just PDF files,
kept in a little online store,
pork scratchings are just pig fat,
cooked in fat,
so we've removed them from the list
of available products,
with a free download of a topical meme.
this move is overdue,
the future is here.
To upload your mind to the mainframe, click here.
by Laura Reinbach
Taken from Death of Libraries.
They will not be forgotten.
With backs straight and arms open,
They embraced a fate
Which spelled death for the community;
A slow liquidization of the mind
Just as their pages were reduced to pulp.
Characters fled disaster
But could not escape the purge:
The Negro went down with the ship
Amid calls of racism;
The female swoons into her own grave
Dug by feminist hands;
The opium trader is burnt alive
In anti-colonialist revolt.
Stephen Dedalus has gone
Into permanent exile,
Told to take Poetry and Art with him,
Leaving the shelves bereft
With only glossy dust jackets
To fill the gaping void
Left by irrelevancy.
How long before it is decided
That we are no longer relevant too?
I can already see them carving my tombstone.
by Lianne Morgan
So my daughter just told me that books are obsolete. Apparently, what's the point in reading something so cumbersome and heavy, with the added effort of turning pages too, when you can read the same thing on a phone or tablet? I told her that I like the feel of the pages between my fingers. She said that wasn't a good enough reason to keep enough to fill a library. I told her I liked the way that books smell and the excitement of opening one for the very first time, wondering what sort of a world you'll be pulled into. She said you can do that on a kindle with the flick of a finger, minus the funny smell I'm attracted to. I told her about how I love going to a bookshop or a library and running my fingers along the spines, pulling random ones out and inspecting them before deciding if they were the book for me. She told me that was weird and I shouldn't ever tell anyone that, dear god mum, please, that's so embarrassing! It was quite amusing, watching her take a deep breath in and turn to me, as if she was about to explain something to a child for the fifth time.
'Look at it this way mum' she said 'what can you do with the paper version that you can't do with the screen version?' So I threw my book across the room and told her I could still read it.
The glare she sent my way was priceless.
"Apart from that?" She huffed.
"I can read it when the battery is dead," I answered. "And I can read it in the bath without having to get it insured." She's scowling at me now.
I'll never agree that books are obsolete. It would be like saying you could run a library online, absolute rubbish.
North Prospect Library
by Benjamin T. Serpell
The Chamber’s dressed in Purple, Gold and Blue
Litter floats down the empty paths of Market Avenue
And just like yesterday; America’s still not in view.
Will Bowyer’s legacy be one of litter and illiteracy?
Where’s the sense in throwing money to the sea,
Liners and Hotels, now what’s their worth to me?
I like the pleasant confines of a well-stocked library.
There’s barking in the Chamber, the dog bins overflow,
Woof-Woof go the litter of illiterates running the show,
They’re balancing the books - and now even the books must go.
There’s a Mayflower hole in the Ocean City’s purse,
Things are bad and they’re going to get worse,
Before too long Councillor Riley will be in The Herald
- dressed as a nurse!
Notes from author: 1 Ian Bowyer is leader of the Conservative coalition Council in Plymouth, his main manifesto pledge was to tackle the City's litter problem. 2 John Riley is the lead representative of the UKIP half of the coalition Council. He refuses to be interviewed by the City's main paper The Herald, although he recently appeared photographed in the letters page emptying the dog litter bin in his local constituency.
by Jonathon Porter
Server loading....... Server loading.......
Welcome to the online library database.
Enter username. Enter password.
Username or password not recognised please enter correct details.
Swipe left, left click, press right for next page.
How can this compare to wetting the end of a finger trembling in anticipation?
How can blankly starring at a screen compare to the ever so slight creak as the spine of a new book opens to infinite possibilities, awaiting to entice and transport the human mind awake from the never ending digital onslaught of the 21st century?
his is the way the world ends not with a bang but with a "incorrect password".
The mind will absorb information like a sponge. Information institutes such as libraries and theatres are the sustenance keeping this sponge nourished. In a time where human contact is becoming lesser, surely the wisest decision would be to grow and expand places where growing minds and opinions can educate and discuss the problems the world is facing.
An anonymous message board will not compare.
A social network is not an acceptable substitute.
Welcome to the new age.
The digitised dystopian age.
Session expired. Thank you for visiting the online library database.
Look who is in the paper...
Update! - 24/02/17
Library day, Mumbai
by Susmita Bhattacharya
On Saturday mornings, once a month
We woke to the excitement of getting on the
across town, counting down the stations
Eight in all, till we pulled in at Churchgate
Pushed through the crowds, got on the bus
Took in the sea breeze from the top deck
until we reached Nariman Point
And elbowed through the lunchtime throng
to the British Council Library.
My mother and I went upstairs
while father waited below.
Rooms and rooms of books,
from ceiling to carpeted floor.
An island of literature: British classics,
novels, poetry, essays
We touched the pages, yellowed with age
Their hard backs smelling of rain and the cold
My mother always chose three books and I one
Then we went down to my father,
already tucking in to the fried snacks
in the street stalls
We walked back to the station
Munching vada paos
wrapped in yesterday’s newspaper,
carrying the books in our shoulder bags
Pushing through the crowds once more
Waiting to get home to read our books at bedtime
by Simon Travers
I may be wrong,
but bargains were implied.
When the concrete streets
were torn apart and
Woodhey became Yellowmead,
and Grassendale faded,
there was some kind
of a bargain.
Sacrifices were made.
People who lived in Swilly
died in West Park.
Families were punted
across the A38;
new uniforms bought
for primary school kids.
Rooms would shrink,
too boxed in for play.
Hopes of home improvements
would wait as rumours of
crackled like a bonfire.
Small sacrifices fit
for smaller spaces.
Nothing you'd stop
the progress for.
Nothing you couldn't
deduct for tax purposes.
Some houses were
not fit to be homes,
some gardens grew sofas,
but there was sacrifice.
In return? A beacon,
a modern home for a
nursery to sketch the
future with, one finger
painting at a time.
Meeting rooms, the
kind of place a church
could take root,
or a slimming world.
Computers and a
national chain cornershop.
A new library, which
apart from anything else,
is where we go
to vote now.
Two years later,
there are no bargains
and no funds for the library,
and no sign of a
commitment to do
anything other than
let this community
fend for itself,
and no idea what'll
be next or if we'll
end up with anything
other than the
We Want To Read The Desiderata
by Kenny Knight
We don't want austerity.
We want Hilda Ogden
and a statue of Agatha Christie
overlooking the stars on Royal Parade.
We don't want the Civic Centre.
Knock it down or open the windows.
Turn it into an archive
for poetry and fiction
into an art gallery
and skateboard park.
We don't want to leave Europe,
but if we must
we want to twin Brussels
with the Pannier Market
all over the runway
at Plymouth Airport.
We don't want
to be called Ocean City
don't want to be called
the city of empty shops
don't want to see
another hospital sold
on the free market,
World War Three
in the land of ducks.
Five million pounds
is a lot of money
in Efford and Laira,
Ernesettle and West Park.
We don't want to close
Eggbuckland or Peverell.
We want a last
little sip of summer wine
a statue of Norah Batty
and another of Hattie Jacques
dressed as a waitress
waving like a film star
to Christmas shoppers
carrying capitalism home
on Royal Parade.
We don't want to be
writers in exile
across the city
along streets of lost words.
We want to be
as loud as feedback
on Electric Ladyland.
While we're being distracted
by the library closures
let's spend some
of that five million
on a replica Mayflower.
Send the pilgrims
of the city council
on a one way trip
across the pond
We don't want
to close North Prospect.
We want to dance with words
in Alexandria and Tothill Park.
We want to hear Walter Gabriel
reading Kelvin Corcoran
in Ambridge Village Library.
We want to read George Eliot
and George Orwell.
We want to read the Desiderata,
and Rosemary Tonks.
Who needs politicians
when we've got books.
by Kevin Tole
When I was 11 we moved from 2 bedroom hell
To three bedroom luxury
half way up Everest on the way to Blandford Road.
But stayed at the same school.
The daily trek across the dangerous isthmus
of The Narrows
Left me on the right side of the road
But the wrong side of the tracks
To the Green Green Grass of Home
Or the Tip as we called it.
But going that way meant
by-passing the house
of the Mad Molester
At the end of the hill.
In a brick house-come-garage which
looked like half a fire station
Opposite the Congregational Hall
where the scouts threw me out,
I was introduced to The First Circle.
And Everything Changed.............
The wonderful Good Readers Circle world and
10 points on the card
Got me through the tongue tied stage of
And onto the Black Arrow
with Missus Pepperpot and the Wooden Horse.
But Sasha showed me the chance of another world.
Forty Years on and the NKVD are
coming to close down the Brick House.
Sasha’s been locked up, released and flown the coop.
No chip shop graces the Narrows,
nor does Freddie’s Rolls glide the back street passes
Whilst we gazed in awe at his sheep-skinned
Dealing a fag a time
which we’d cheekily cough over down the Arena.
They say there will be a book burning to rival
the pyre of ’72
when we raided the engine sheds
And dragged black bitumen coated sleepers back.
Never mind. It’s all on-line now.
Full digital access.
Pop-Up libraries like tin men
at a Whitelegg’s shooting gallery
Ready to be popped down when my aim was true
When a shooting gallery meant
something quite unsinister.
Pop-Up... and then gone
just like the Fair.
Yesterday it was at the end of the tip
just in front of the Arena
This morning there’s a Community School there
set to replace four others.
Everyone’s a zek now.
Sometimes you have to stand.
A Reply To Dan Morgan's 'Overdue'
by Thom Boulton (Blaidh Nemorlith)
The Parthenon’s fate had finally been decided. It was a classy nightclub in its prime but after the years of abuse the carpet had suffered at the hands of vodka based drinks and vodka based vomit, the place was a little bit past it. The old owner, Tibbs Bottomley, put the place up for sale as soon as he came to the realisation that it was heading from cash cow status to money pit. Dealing with the sharp eyed estate agents was easy in comparison to telling his ‘regulars’ about the plans to shut and sell. There were three of them that used to frequent the steps of the club for hours. They literally would pay entry, hang up their coats and then head back out the club and smoke on the street all night. It was their place of philosophy. Drunken conversations would roll off their sharp tongues, through the hours of darkness until the dawn broke. Afterwards they would attempt to stumble to the nearby cafe for a greasy spoon fry-up. Three souls named Sue Crates, Peto and Harry Stotle, a trio of wide minded gossips that liked to put the world to rights. When Tibbs Bottomley approached them in the local harbour cafe, they were discussing the ideas of utopian states whilst dipping their bread soldiers into cold poached eggs.
“You see,” spoke Harry Stotle, “the issues facing the idea of a perfect state is literally its name. Utopia, Latin, for ‘No Place’.”
“Ah but what about haddock?” cried Peto as he dipped a sort of sautéed looking piece of potato into his beans.
Both Sue and Harry rolled their eyes.
“You always have to belittle it with a stupid pun, don’t you Peto, eh? Don’t you!” cried Sue Crates, quivering as she began to rifle through her purse for a tip.
Bottomely got nearer to them, and a sudden gust of wind alerted them to his approach. A spectre rode the wind, one they could all see without the need for clairvoyance. They all frowned as he drew nearer.
“What’s wrong with the club?” said Harry Stotle.
“How do you know there’s something wrong?” croaked Bottomley.
“You’re walking funny.” muttered Sue, “You always walk funny when you have bad news and seeing as we only really ever talk about the club then it’s not too difficult to put one and one together is it?”
Bottomley sighed, “Well, I’ve shut the club and I’m selling up. Costs too much. Gonna modernise the whole thing...”
Harry Stotle interrupted.
“Modernise it? A club? Fair enough having the odd iphone party, dancing silently, it’s kitsch and all, but how can you modernise a club? Buy your drinks online and delivered to your door? I mean, has anyone thought about how you’d return the glasses once you’re finished?”
“I don’t want a modern club,” spluttered Peto through his milkshake moustache, “I like my routine. It gives me purpose.” He moped down into his chair, saddened greatly by the news of the closure and the realisation that his safe space was being taken away from him.
Bottomley cried out, “Well I’m doing it so... get over it!”
A Little Limerick
by Julian Isaacs
The house that books built
Will decay to silt
Forget the ifs and buts
Fight the library cuts
Before leather bound flowers all wilt
taken from voicesforthelibrary.org
by Angela Sherlock
The Children’s Library
Books were not plentiful in our house. We had a few children’s stories – The Water Babies, a volume of fairy tales – but we could not afford to buy books, so the library was our only resource. The children’s library was up the hill, almost a mile away. It was separated from the adult library, which opened on a parallel street and which we could not enter until we had reached the magical age of 14.
An older sibling marched us up the hill every Saturday and, armed with our four library tickets, we browsed for an hour or so, trying to guess what would keep us occupied for the following week. Biggles was good, and his female counterpart, Worrals. Blyton’s Mallory Towers opened a magic window into the mysterious world of boarding schools, but I don’t think we ever came across The Famous Five. I have fond memories of Rosemary Sutcliffe and Elizabeth Goodge. And there were all those books about how to become a ballet dancer, a musical comedy star, or an air hostess, none of which I turned into.
One day I managed to read all the books I had borrowed that morning. What, nothing for another week! I trudged back up the hill, only to be told that books could not be returned on the day they were borrowed. My mother took pity on me and lent me two of her childhood volumes. We were not noted for treating her possessions with respect. We had once borrowed her books to make furniture for our dolls to sit on and we drew gas rings on the cover of a volume of Moliere to serve as a doll’s cooker. Augusta, A Queen among Girls was about a plucky heroine who sacrificed herself for her little brother. I think she fell ill – young heroines tended to contract brain fever and had to have their hair cut off – but she was revived by beef tea. I had no idea what that was, but Augusta won through in the end. And then there was Hollyberry Janet, which reduced me to floods of tears, the ultimate accolade for any novel.
The Adult Library
This was a holy place, hushed, great mahogany book cases lining aisles where silent readers lurked. Old library buildings always seemed to have upper galleries, secret places into which the staff vanished, staircases that borrowers could not ascend.
I read indiscriminately – Virginia Woolf, Colette and Georgette Heyer; James Baldwin, Saul Bellow, Alistair Maclean. I fell in love, briefly, with D.H. Lawrence, but was disillusioned when I read a biography that located his characters in real life. I was shocked. He hadn’t made them up, these were people he knew, which I considered cheating.
The classification system was a wonder to me. All knowledge was neatly ordered, and the catalogue resided in a vast array of drawers that could answer an enquiry from any angle, alphabetical by author or subject, numerical by Dewey Decimal. Folklore resided at 398, the arts in the 700s, history at 900, and it all made perfect sense.
Here I discovered poetry, play scripts, travel books. It was an upmarket guide to Paris that sent me there on a solo trip, aged about 16, staying in a two star hotel, navigating the metro with my schoolgirl French. The guide book took me to the Louvre, to Sainte-Chapelle, Montmartre and Sacre-Coeur, to the Jeu de Paume. Lots of very sophisticated night spots were recommended but I did not venture beyond the pages of the book. I was impressed by a reference to James Bond’s favourite cocktail, having worked my way through all of Fleming’s novels. I still wonder what champagne and Benzedrine would taste like.
My First Job
Imagining a world of possibility, at 16 off I went to the Youth Employment Bureau. Unfortunately romance and imagination played no part in their brief so when I said I loved reading and wanted to travel they sent me to Stepney Public Libraries - not quite what I had been hoping for.
The library was very fine, built on the Victorian scale. In addition to the book lending section there was a collection of gramophone records, newspapers and local history. The reference library was always full. Mile End was a deprived area and the elderly and the poor congregated here, often falling asleep in the warmth. On a wet day they would spread their coats over chair backs and radiators, and it was very smelly!
My first library had a section marked Classics, each volume carrying a yellow sticker to distinguish it from the common run of fiction. I rose to this elitist challenge and worked my way through almost all of them. There was a mysterious looking trilogy, grey volumes with a curious border of runes and an eye. No blurb, no excerpts from reviews. It was Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings, my first fantasy novel, a genre of whose existence I had been ignorant.
We ran Story Hours in the children’s libraries and I picked up a smattering of Turkish from the children I read to. Many of them, only four or five years old, wore fur coats. It was a traditional area for furriers and some of the older Jewish tailors suffered from hairballs. Car manuals were so sought after that a dummy book resided on the shelf, the original being claimed at the desk, lest they be purloined.
There were smaller outposts, Cable Street, or the Isle of Dogs. Borrowers were fewer, but there were the same types – eccentrics with life stories to share, old ladies who wanted ‘another romance novel, love’, or young Asian men, struggling with the language, educating themselves by working their way through the ‘Teach yourself’ books. Then, as now, the libraries were used for learning and recreation.