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Books but no beds

Written By: - Date published: 6:11 pm, October 18th, 2017 - 19 comments
Categories: housing, poverty, welfare - Tags:

Most viewed story on the Guardian website today: “New Zealand library cracks case of missing books.” Turns out some of Auckland’s 23,000 homeless were hiding bookmarked books in odd places so they wouldn’t lose their place. The library will now keep their books safe. Good on them. But finding homes for homeless must be a high priority for Aotearoa’s next government.

The article also refers to a Newshub story from last month about the estimated 700 rough sleepers in Auckland. I was in Brighton last month and saw quite a few in the streets there after seven years of Conservative austerity. Its happening in our streets too after nine years of National Party austerity.

Whatever happens tomorrow, this has to change.

19 comments on “Books but no beds”

  1. Anne 1

    “A lot of the guys that come in are extremely well-read and have some quite eccentric and high-brow literary tastes … people are homeless for so many different reasons, and being intelligent and interested in literature doesn’t preclude that.”

    Years ago, I remember having a person pointed out to me who was poor and homeless. He was, in fact, a mathematical genius yet no-one cared enough to help him through his problems. What a terrible waste to society of a person with an exceptional talent.

  2. ianmac 2

    A brilliant mathematician I knew years ago was almost paralysed socially. He had great difficulty to even say Hello or answer ordinary social questions. He sounded like a very long stutterer. Wonder what happened to him?
    We do expect normality and fear eccentricity and yet…

  3. Whispering Kate 3

    As a lover of books and having amassed a big collection I really did find that story about the Central Auckland Public Library very heart warming. Books can become loving companions and owners can be very possessive about them. Books known as “keepers” stay on the book shelf and are read over again and books can become a tangible item in a home and make a home a true home. I have always thought to myself an absence of books in a home tells a person a lot about the inhabitants.

    All power to the library for finding a space where these obviously inquisitive, intelligent people without a roof over their heads can keep their books for further reading without losing them back on the shelves. It warmed my heart. When it comes to down sizing I am going to be in angst as to what I will give away and what I shall keep. I read an article in a “North and South” of that very problem with another writer having a love affair with her books and her dilemma over what to retain and what to give away.

  4. greywarshark 4

    These people would be probably, on the autistic spectrum and just too intellectual, and attempt rationality, to be able to comprehend and converse much in the loose, emotional way that many go through life with. And if they tried to talk about their own interests and obsessions they might just receive funny looks and upturned eyes.

    I hope the library can amend its rules enough to cater for these book-loving people.
    Librarians are a bit like rigid teachers at times. Perhaps they can keep a bunch of recycled paper and the readers just take one, mark their place and pop their book with a postit with their name on it on a shelf that is accessible. The people would probably like to be unobtrusive in their reading habits, and not take a book out of the premises.

    • weka 4.1

      Grey, are your comments now appearing immediately instead of going to moderation first?

      • greywarshark 4.1.1

        Yes weka. I had remembered that I promised i would sit down and get on with new login process, but at the moment, though not having done that, they jump out like Jack-in-the-boxes and straight up. It’s magic.

        I was poking round with some organisational windows and saw an option that I might safely press without a disaster and perhaps that did the job.

        • weka 4.1.1.1

          I think I fixed it with something I did in back end last night but haven’t been online when you’ve been posting to see if it’s worked. Sounds like it has. I need to double check with Lynn that what I did isn’t a problem but otherwise fingers crossed.

          • weka 4.1.1.1.1

            I might temporarily reverse what I did to test it, because this issue affects others so having a known and simple fix would be great. If you see a delay again can you please post comment and I will keep an eye out.

            • greywarshark 4.1.1.1.1.1

              Ok weka, I have posted this morning and still going through like a bullet train. Wow – and I get to edit now if I need to. By the time they went through before, the edit option had vanished, or I had, to go and actually do something physical.

    • Fran 4.2

      That is a bit of a stretch Greyshark. Maybe these are just ordinary people, fallen on hard times who are reading to pass the days.

      Most people on the autistic spectrum would return the book to the shelf it came from – because autistic!! All the librarians I know are fully aware of their autistic customers and cater to their needs, homeless or otherwise. This is different.

      Your idea is offensive on two counts, 1: only homeless people on the spectrum want to read and 2: most people on the spectrum are so inept that they are homeless.
      Neither is true.

      I am sure you had the best of motives here but …

      • greywarshark 4.2.1

        Your reply is offensive because it is picky and finds fault with someone trying to understand such people. Why not just say it stretches things a bit, and leave it at that.

        Why always pick at people because they don’t get everything right according to your knowledge? Calling me offensive that’s whacky. Now if you were criticising me saying librarians are a bit like rigid teachers I could understand that.

        • Stuart Munro 4.2.1.1

          Dunedin librarians are lovely – should be brought in as consultants to reform those semi-privatized public services that’ve gone feral like ACC or Winz.

          • greywarshark 4.2.1.1.1

            Actually Stuart and Molly I got thinking about having to be correct to the nth degree and PC, to get everyone right and not meander trying to understand. And I thought how precise and machine like that was, it had to fit 100% into the given wisdom like doing a National Standards school subject.

            And then I thought about how machines are being used by ACC etc. And if your symptoms don’t fit exactly into the template allowed for, you are rejected. And I thought that I don’t like that yet lots of people are happily proclaiming how much cheaper it will be to run government like that, and a lot of other things. Then I thought that I won’t like dealing with machines, and machines set up to talk like humans, and then I thought that they will be able to be programmed to write comments and fill the blogs up, and never have to go off to bed to get the strength to face the Brand New World that has been created for us. Goody, goody.

            And then I thought all these middle class people who preach at us as Fran did, and go at us about talking PC also, are training us not to reach out and think but to cut our ideas down to size so they will fit in the slot allowed.
            It also cuts out the joy of life and the ability to speak freely and find out new things, be naive and curious, be helpful and generous, because you will be likely to be turned away as not up to standard.

            I used to volunteer with adult reading assistance, and once seeing some useful cartoon with text books cancelled at the library, recognised they would appeal to learner readers. I took them in to the rooms but they were rejected as the correct approach now was to only offer new books.

            The decision had been made that ‘these people’ had never had new books and the fairy godmothers had decided against secondhand. But they took away the learners’ opportunity to decide for themselves, they infantilised them limiting their choices and curiosity. No they must have only prescribed material, and so were proscribed from spreading their wings and getting free, expensive, but used material of interest in addition to that being provided by the agency. Know-alls with limited imagination
            limiting others’ thinking, are the scenario as we move towards machine controlled thinking.

      • Molly 4.2.2

        Having a child on the spectrum, and fairly convinced that I have many of the indicators myself, I see no problem with people who identify those traits.

        If we took away the negative connotations of being on the spectrum, and just looked at it as an indication of a person’s tendencies – alongside comments such as athletic, bookworm, party animal, etc. we would be able to appreciate the advantages as well as the restrictive impacts.

        I am often amused by the passionate requirement of some “neurotypicals” for those on the spectrum to learn social mannerisms that mimic their own. A contradiction for those who are the most socially adept to require adaptation from those who are not, in order to feel comfortable.

        I think grey’s comment should have been linked to the comment above about the mathematician who showed great expertise in one area, and lacked social skills. It does sound likely that that might be an indication of Asperger’s or autism.

        I agree with you though, you cannot extrapolate that out further without getting into flawed generalisation.

        • Fran 4.2.2.1

          to Molly,
          As someone with a child on the spectrum too I fully support your statement and agree with you about playing to your strengths – whether you have ASD or not.
          You are also right about the social stuff (and I am really not a big fan of the “neurotypical” label, mostly because it’s been hijacked by the very community it describes.)

          My bugbear is that so many people look at the surface and make assumptions which are mostly not true about ASD people, who are as individually different as the rest of the non-ASD population based on “concern” and “a desire to understand”. This does not help my kid or my friend’s kids either it just reinforces stereotypes that in the end inhibit their lives.

          • Molly 4.2.2.1.1

            I enjoy the straightforward conversations of many of those on the spectrum. Prefer it to the awkwardness I feel when dealing with those practised in the art of charm and/or subterfuge.

            Agree with you on the “neurotypical” term, which is why I enclosed it in quotes. Was unable to come up with another that fitted – any suggestions?

  5. weka 5

    Thanks Mike, that was a good story. So glad that there are still functional institutions based in a kaupapa of caring and service.

  6. UncookedSelachimorpha 6

    A very good and somewhat related story on the Guardian today, on why poverty is not a moral failing (nor wealth a moral virtue).

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/18/george-bernard-shaw-poverty-moral-myth

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