The BBC is talking lots today about libraries. The Government has talked about reviewing library services and Cornwall is one of the areas which is piloting ideas for running library services in a different way. What this means is unclear from the press release (I've asked for details).
But almost all the coverage to date has been about borrowing novels. That may be a fundamental part of what a library does, but it is far from being the only thing. So whilst you can put bookshelves in pubs or even in red phone boxes (as BBC Radio Cornwall suggested this morning), that does not make them libraries.
Libraries are also about information. They have newspapers and reference books and, across Cornwall, free access to the internet and assistance to show infrequent browsers how to use them.
And libraries are also about promoting reading and learning. I know that across Cornwall the librarians do a great job on this but I'd like to single out Jesse Foot in Bodmin Library. He and his team put on very large numbers of special events in the library itself for younger readers - including a very special Dr Who day. They also run groups for other groups and do lots of outreach work.
Which leads me to my next point - using volunteers and others in our libraries. One of the ideas that has been put about is that we should hand libraries over to volunteers to run. I think that many of the functions that are currently being done by trained librarians could be done by volunteers - issuing books, stacking shelves and so on. But this should not be done so that we can get rid of librarians. It should be done to free librarians to do the work that they are trained and qualified to do - promoting reading and literacy and helping people to find information.