This is an excerpt from an article that appeared in London’s Guardian newspaper on October 24. It only increases my already high regard for Philip Pullman:
Philip Pullman declares war against ‘stupidity’ of library closures
Philip Pullman has lambasted Brent council for its comment that closing half of its libraries would help it fulfill “exciting plans to improve libraries”, describing the statement as a “masterpiece” which “ought to be quoted in every anthology of political bullshit from here to eternity”.
“All the time, you see, the council had been longing to improve the library service, and the only thing standing in the way was – the libraries,” said the His Dark Materials author, speaking at the national conference of library campaigners on Saturday, where over 80 people from around the country gathered to share tactics on how to save the UK’s beleaguered libraries. With 600 of England’s libraries threatened with closure, Pullman called the campaigners’ battle a “war against stupidity”.
Citing campaigns to save libraries in Oxfordshire as well as in Brent, Pullman said “the war we’re fighting is not against this party or that one, this flag or another flag, our parents or our MP or anyone else in particular: it’s against stupidity. And stupidity is not to be underestimated. The poet Schiller, whose great words on the subject of Joy were set in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, knew what a huge part stupidity plays in human affairs: ‘Against stupidity,’ he said, ‘the gods themselves struggle in vain.'”
Having worked himself as a library assistant in Charing Cross Road library in the early 70s, Pullman said that “if you really want complete freedom of choice, complete openness of information, where nobody is spying on you, no one is selling your presence to advertisers, the only place to find it is a library, where they keep books.”