Not the Fun Centre
Higson pointed out that reading is not primarily about learning but about fun, and Cottrell-Boyce picked this up to talk about how learning centres increasingly focus on providing IT facilities rather than books, despite the fact that more children have access to computers at home than to a wide range of books. And it occurred to me that the shift from 'library' to 'learning centre' encodes a shift in attitude, in which books are no longer seen as fun, as an end in themselves, but as a 'resource' for learning. In that view a book really is no different from a computer in that it is a vehicle for content, and in many ways it is less powerful and versatile. Such a change suits bureaucracy and government because 'learning' in the sense of 'training' can be measured, tested, recorded and used. But there is also the joy and pleasure and useless mental profit of reading good books, which a library, as opposed to a learning centre, exists to provide.