We enter the new year in a storm of activity against public library cuts. Groups all over the country are preparing for the 5th February read-ins, and the media are running story after story, too many for me to keep up with, so see the excellent Publlc Libraries News, maintained by Ian Anstice.
There's an aspect that is less frequently commented on, and that is cuts in music libraries. Too many authorities have, over the years, diluted or closed music services, and though some, such as the excellent Barbican library, have weathered the storms of Thatcher-Major-Blair-Brown cuts, I fear for them under the coalition.
I read in the Observer of Paul Lewis, and how he had his musical education at Liverpool public libraries, borrowing three albums of piano music at a time, taping them illegally, and how this made him the virtuoso he now is. I too owe my musical education to a public library, Cambridge, and the fact that I am no virtuoso is certainly not their fault.
What are the chances in 2011 of an eight-year old discovering and being inspired by the Viennese piano repertoire through a public library? Slight, and becoming slighter.