Island public libraries fall far short of ideal standards

Exterior image of the Insular Library, in the capital of Gran Canaria. / JUAN CARLOS ALONSO

The insular maps reflect a lack of personnel, obsolete and scarce collections, inadequate infrastructures and even municipalities without an open

When you know what awaits you, the impact is less. But that does not prevent the reality of the public libraries of the archipelago, which are being X-rayed through the island maps coordinated by the councils based on the information collected in each municipality, from being
light years away from the ideal standards established in the 21st century.

“The maps confirm what we already knew. There are very improvable issues, especially in human resources.
It is very sad that in many local corporations not even professional categories are respectedthat the working hours are not adequate and that
do not have the necessary number of workers to carry out a modern and efficient work", points out
Ariel Brito, President of the Association of Librarians and Documentalists of the Canary Islands.

So far, the councils of
Gran Canaria and La Palma They have already delivered their respective island maps to the Government of the Canary Islands, developed with the same parameters for the entire archipelago. those of
Tenerife and Fuerteventura are about to be delivered, while those of
La Gomera, El Hierro and Lanzarote still waiting.

essential radiography

Maps are fundamental tools of
planning and evaluation of the Canary Islands library system. Once the seven town councils are included, they will concentrate on the regional one. will give us a
still photo and the specific aspects in which it is necessary to improve», acknowledges Ariel Brito.

The shortage of personnel in almost all the municipalities is significant, as well as the non-compliance in the labor categories of the contracted workers. But the infrastructures themselves are not looking good either.

“Facilities are very important. There is a considerable deficit in square meters for library use and the maps already elaborated and those that are about to be finished clearly reflect this. Result
very complicated or impossible to be able to carry out various activities without a place with minimum conditions. That from one day to the next is not achieved, because it requires a significant investment. There, the
town halls They have a fundamental responsibility, because they have to be guarantors so that citizens have access to a quality offer and in
decent and modern facilities», defends Brito.

The Reading and Libraries Law of the Canary Islands arrived "very late", but as a counterpoint it is
"very modern", admits Brito. It determines that all the municipalities of the archipelago must have at least one open public library.

three black dots

The map of Gran Canaria portrays three bleeding black spots. of the of
firgas points out the following: "This library does not have specific staff and employees from the City Council's education and culture areas deal with the service to the best of their ability." To this is added that the renewal of its collection of titles and the number of computers for internet access is "zero".

"The library of
wit is closedthe branch of
Reedbed It only has a small space of the total area available and the total collection is made up of more than 46,000 specimens, but most of them are stored and are not available for loan or consultation, "underlines the island map on this
municipality of southeastern Gran Canaria.

Interior of the Insular Library of the capital of Gran Canaria. /

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In
Tejeda the library reality is as simple as it is gloomy. Its only library is closed, so zero shines in all parsed parameters for the island map.

much to improve

The rest of the municipalities do not meet all the parameters either, established fundamentally based on the number of inhabitants and their dispersion. It is logical, among other things because some stand out in some aspects and falter in others. The enclaves of Gran Canaria
The most outstanding are Santa María de Guía, Valleseco, Arucas and Gáldar.

«
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Santa Cruz de Tenerife are special cases. Both cities have their different municipal libraries, to which are added the respective State Public Libraries and, in the case of the capital of Gran Canaria, the Insular Library, in the Plaza de las Ranas. In the case of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, it has a network with 12 centers, two of which are closed due to works. The map reflects that it is necessary to improve in human resources and in surface, in the same vein as the rest of the municipalities of the archipelago. It surpasses Santa Cruz in the number of municipal libraries, but the human resources structure is much better and more efficient in the capital of Tenerife”, points out Ariel Brito.

Other deficiencies

Among the conclusions of this x-ray of the current state of Gran Canaria's libraries, extensive to almost the entire archipelago, is that the
collections of volumes and publications do not fit the needs current.

In some municipalities, as reflected in the island map of Gran Canaria, the only investments in this section are those that come from the councils or the Government of the Canary Islands. “There are municipalities, and I am not mentioning their names or islands, that have their libraries closed and
ask for subsidies for the purchase of books. Their destiny is to be stored in boxesbut this way they prevent the opposition parties from berating them for losing subsidies”, laments Ariel Brito, president of the Association of Librarians and Documentalists of the Canary Islands.

It recognizes that digitization and the implementation of powerful Wi-Fi networks are other pending issues. «
The eBiblio and eFilm projects work quite well, but it is necessary to spread them even more and they need an even greater investment”, he points out.

The
acquisition of written press is another lack that Brito denounces. “Little by little, people, especially older people, are going back to libraries to read newspapers, because it has been shown to be safe. But in some libraries not even a copy is bought.

The State Public Library, in the capital of Gran Canaria. / Juan Carlos Alonso

"They are not study rooms, although of course you can read and study"

Ariel Brito, president of the Association of Librarians and Documentalists of the Canary Islands, underlines the importance of both citizens and those responsible for public administrations assuming the need for a "change of perception" regarding the use of public libraries.

“They are not study rooms. You can read and study in them, of course, but they are not study rooms. That does not mean that we do not like the students and opponents. We do not reject them. No way. Libraries by default are spaces of freedom and therefore everyone has the right to go to them. But you have to go beyond that nineteenth-century idea of ​​temples of knowledge. They are a fundamental service and in great demand, but they must be understood as spaces of coexistence, where solidarity, democracy and culture in all its dimensions can be developed. It is not only a place to go to read, study and buy books, although the promotion of reading is in its DNA. Libraries can host anything from a robotics club to circus activities”, defends Brito.

He recognizes that there is a "social need" that demands places for study. “That would have to be covered in other spaces, as is already done in other municipalities and cities outside the islands. These are specific spaces for studying, which are equipped with tables, chairs, adequate Wi-Fi, total silence and security».

This librarian is clear that since the approval of the Reading and Libraries Law and during the current legislature considerable progress has been made, although there is still a long way to go. “The Canarian Council for Reading and Libraries must be launched. The Reading Promotion Plan in which the Government of the Canary Islands is working will be key to building the building from the ground up. At the foundation are the boys and girls and the school libraries, which sadly are the poor sisters throughout the country. Here, I will not tell you. They have to provide them and I think the Vice-Ministry of Culture has it planned », he advances.

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