Libraries & Social Justice According to Phillip Pullman

Rijkmuseum, Amsterdam


“The public library, again. Yes, I’m writing a book, Mr Mitchell, and yes, I hope it’ll make some money. But I’m not praising the public library service for money. I love the public library service for what it did for me as a child and as a student and as an adult. I love it because its presence in a town or a city reminds us that there are things above profit, things that profit knows nothing about, things that have the power to baffle the greedy ghost of market fundamentalism, things that stand for civic decency and public respect for imagination and knowledge and the value of simple delight.”

                                                   – Phillip Pullman, Author

Author Phillip Pullman gave a stirring speech about the austerity cuts in Britain that are impacting public libraries. The speech is entitled, “Leave the Libraries Alone. You Don’t Understand their Value.”  It is a beautifully argued speech. What Pullman suggests is that there is a “market fundatmentalism,” a real belief that the Chicago School of Economics approach that the free market solves all, has convinced society that all things must bend to the market, be controlled by the market, and dictated by it. Pullman says that public learning matters more than profit, and in fact, is not about profit to begin with.

What a beautiful beautiful idea.


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