Prince William is an Aston Villa fan, not because he was born in Birmingham, but because he and his Eton friends chose to support unfashionable football teams, rather than the usual Chelsea or Arsenal. But I’d like to suggest that rich people start thinking about which unfashionable library they’re going to support as well. You don’t need to have a particular link to Sandwell, but perhaps an Etonian West Bromwich Albion fan would like to help its local libraries as well?
My old college, Somerville, regularly asks me for money, and Oxford University is now aiming to raise £3 billion, having reached its original target of £1.25 billion in record time. Oxford needs the money so it can compete with Harvard, Yale and the other Ivy League colleges but Sandwell needs the money so its children can compete with other UK children in education and the job market. If you give our libraries money, you’ll be in a much smaller, more exclusive club than the Oxford donors!
If you decide to give millions to public libraries, make sure your accountant ties the money up well, so the councils don’t spend it on something else or decide that they can give up on their own commitment to libraries. But if you have a smaller amount, you might like to pay for every library in Sandwell to have an annual visit from each the following:
- a popular children’s author
- a professional children’s story teller
- Ronnie Crackers (or some other wonderful children’s entertainer).
Or a new roof for Langley Library, please.