Libraries? Horrible Histories author believes they are 'no longer relevant'


The writer of the bestselling Horrible Histories series has proclaimed that libraries are “no longer relevant” and “they have to change or they have to go”.

Terry Deary, whose books were the seventh most borrowed from libraries in Britain last year, said he was “not attacking libraries or librarians; that is as popular as clubbing seals. I am asking questions about the abstract ‘concept’ of library service”.

He broke ranks from many fellow authors to say he believes that “no one has an entitlement to read a book for free, at the expense of the author, the publisher and the council tax payer. This is not the Victorian age when libraries were created to allow the impoverished to have access to literature.”

The comments prompted angry mail from library campaigners as well as criticism from fellow children’s authors including David Almond and Alan Gibbons who called the comments “downright irresponsible” and challenged Mr Deary to a public debate.

Mr Deary believes that with the proliferation of mobile devices, children can read the plethora of free books available for e-readers.

“For the children who do not have an e-book reader it would be far more economical use of our council taxes to buy them one than to spend millions on library buildings, staff, book stocks, heading and lighting. I have no wish to deny children the pleasure of reading, but I do wish to change the way children read.”

Mr Deary told The Independent that the authors who had commented were “the ones with small minds to match their small talents. Apparently I’m an irresponsible Philistine. It is for me to challenge the established, failing, unfair, irrelevant established order,” he added. “It needs to be opened up for public debate and the council tax cuts to public services are as good a time as any to raise the subject.”

Mr Gibbons said: “I’m disappointed in the tone of his reply. I hope I responded to his comments by talking about the issues. He’s always been an iconoclast and I have a lot of time for him, but not on libraries.”

Despite the savage cuts in the sector, Mr Gibbons continued that libraries still brought 300m visits last year. “I want to offer a challenge. If Terry wants to debate this I would be delighted to fix it up.”

Mr Dear replied: “As I explained I have a packed writing diary for the next two years. I haven’t the time to expend hot air on a meaningless discussion that would change nothing; nor have I the inclination to discuss a topic that no one really cares about. Teacup, storm.

“Oh and there is the small matter of the offensive personal remarks the Gibbon bloke made about me. Debate with him? In his dreams.”

Book shops are closing because libraries are handing out books for free, he said. “Authors, book-sellers and publishers need to eat and they don’t expect to go to a food library and eat for free.”

He continued: “Books are part of the entertainment industry. This is not the Roman Empire with free bread and circuses to appease the masses. People expect to pay for their entertainment.”

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot has been cast to play Wonder Woman
Top Gear presenter James May appears to be struggling with his new-found free time
Arts and Entertainment
Kendrick Lamar at the Made in America Festival in Los Angeles last summer
Arts and Entertainment
'Marley & Me' with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Hamm (right) and John Slattery in the final series of Mad Men
Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor