Maybe you saw something like this in a newspaper (remember them?) over the weekend.
“A town has emptied its library in a bid to fight plans to close it down.
People in Stony Stratford, near Milton Keynes, have spent the week withdrawing their maximum allowance of books in protest against council plans to close it as part of budget cuts.
And they said the plan had been a success, with all 16,000 books withdrawn from the library.”
A great PR hit for the well-intentioned people of Stoney Stratford maybe, but kind of counter-intuitive don’t you think?
As soon as a “last sad bundle of self-help and practical mechanics books” (the guardian) were stamped out, the community denied itself the basic amenity of a library – a place with lots of books, books to browse and books to borrow, books for free.
What will they do next? Do they plan to all take the books back on the same day, swap them around amongst themselves and take them all out again in different combinations – leaving the library empty once more?
I wonder how much thought went into this before (as is the way with this particular bastard-child of the internet) the facebook group (it had to be didn’t it) ran away with itself. Because it’s now much easier for the council to close the library since it’s a library with no books and an empty building is not really a library even if it says library on the outside. And it’s now much easier to lay off the librarians since they haven’t got any librarying to do. These are probably not the hoped-for outcomes.
But as the Stoney Stratforders took away their own library did they create a new parlour game for the chattering classes (and their precocious kids)?
We’ll call it Self-Defeating Pointless Protest (until we come up with something snappier).
Here are a few maybe-headlines to start us off;
Swimmers drain water from threatened council swimming pool,
Beds empty as homeless take to street-sleeping in protest at hostel closures,
Elderly on hunger strike fighting the price of meals on wheels going up,
Motorists queue at filling stations enraged by the rising cost of petrol,
Millions club together to pay Philip Green’s tax bill.
Give it a try. See how you get on. You could have whole minutes of fun.