At a public meeting earlier this month, Philip Pullman delivered a speech / critique of Oxfordshire county council's plans to stop the funding of nearly half of its 43 public libraries and have them instead run by community volunteers. And it went further and deeper, including commentary on publishers' increasing reliance on market forces to make editorial decisions. The speech has picked up a lot of attention, and has already been translated into French with the title 'Laissez nos bibliothèques en paix!'
The issue concerns me thrice over: as writer, reader and public library worker. Although it relates to specific developments in Britain, the broader forces at work apply to much of the world - particularly to regions under financial pressures.
Credit is due to the False Economy and Open Democracy sites for first co-publishing the speech.