The Library With No Books. Town Borrows All 16,000
Photo: Friends of Stony Stratford Library via Facebook
Mohandas 'Mahatma' Gandhi was a famous proponent of nonviolent civil disobedience, seeing it as "a weapon of the strong." That's not to suggest that he advocated inaction. On the contrary, he said, "The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world's problems."
Which brings us to the Friends of Stony Stratford Library (UK) who organised their 'Wot No Books' campaign and harnessed the power of social networking to get the word out. Following the spread of news via Facebook and Twitter, the library's entire collection of 16,000 books has all been loaned out. At one point forcing librarians to stamp 380 books per hour.
Image: Friends of Stony Stratford Library
The reason for this extraordinary action was to demonstrate the void that would be left behind if the library was closed down, as is planned by the Milton Keynes Council. Now, the council may, or may not, be justified in their plans. That isn't technically important. What the residents of this town have made transparently obvious, is that communities do have the power to rally together and support one another when their common good is threatened. And impressive actions can be undertaken with verve and creativity.
Reporting on the story the Guardian provides this salient quote from a local resident,
'The library is the one place where you find five-year-olds and 90-year-olds together, and it's where young people learn to be proper citizens'. It's crazy even to consider closing it.'
As a resident of the country village that became Australia's (and the world's) First Bottled Water Free Town, I've witnessed firsthand what the strength of community spirit can achieve in such circumstances. The challenges we face on this planet can not be solved by individuals acting alone. But by standing shoulder to shoulder we may find we have sufficient capability to solve some of the world's problems.
Friends of Stony Stratford Library, via ABC
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