For years now, we have had useful insights into what happens to a country when it is on the throes of an economic crisis, and what happens to its people in the process. But nothing can compare to this!
The economic crisis experienced by the Spanish government has started to have an impact of a different kind on its people. Driven by the woes of the economic crunch, more and more Spaniards are thronging to libraries located across the country. And this is not apparently in an attempt to revive their love for books or improve their literary knowledge, but to save these libraries from being shut down forever by the Spanish government.
Case in point: The district library at the Plaza de lasPalomas in Granada that caters to several locals on a daily basis. Not something to be surprised about really! But the fact that the library was officially closed over 2 years ago and is solely operated by the locals under candlelight would definitely raise quite a few eyebrows.
The library is literally run by the locals who put in extra time to perform a multitude of tasks here. These tasks include arranging the books, archiving donated books, registering book returns and loans, and organizing several cultural activities and public protests to highlight the plight of the Las Palomas library’s (and several other libraries) future in a recession driven country that has cut down nearly 60 percent of the funds allotted to public libraries.
Las Palomas has been only one of the many libraries that were shut down unannounced by the government to cut costs. The promised new library that was built to replace the old one was located on the outskirts of the town and was inaccessible to a large group of people. The new library was also too small to accommodate the town’s visitors and was more student oriented, offering nothing for elderly people. Worse, it was practically inaccessible to inhabitants from the poorest sections of the town.
Efforts to keep the Las Palomas library open went in vain as protestors were dragged off to jail and the books were hauled off to the new library. But the people of this little town were not ready to give up, and opened their own library support group which managed to open the library again. And with donations, books and furniture pouring in from the locals, the library has managed to remain open to this day.
Electricity is provided via a stray cable pulled in through a window from the power supply of a local resident who lives across the road. Water supply is also available at the moment. And though you can hardly call it a functioning library, Las Palomas has managed to spread some brightness in a section of the town that would otherwise remain uneducated and at the bottom rung of the economic ladder for many more years to come.
Las Palomas happens to be just one of the many libraries that have started taking things into its own hands in order to remain open. Moreover, the joint initiatives of the locals to use these places as institutions for the underprivileged citizens have brought forward a sudden increase in the number of library borrowers by nearly 50-150 percent.