Mr Pendle has a question for you all.
When was the last time you used your local library?
Mr Pendle must admit that, apart from the odd time he has called in to pass a half hour, or for reference purposes in the course of his work, he cannot remember.
As for the last time he was actually a library member and withdrew a book, that is also something lost in the sands of times past – and he dares say he is not alone.
So he was alarmed to read in his newspaper as he began putting this column together a page headlined “Libraries must change or die” – and immediately trashed a boring column about money wasted by the European Space Agency on a pointless mission to Mars to concentrate on more earthly matters.
As he read the story, he found nearly 500 libraries have closed in the last decade and, more alarmingly, more than 1,000 more could be lost by 2016 unless action is taken.
The use of libraries is said to have halved since 1997 – so what can be done?
Apparently, libraries can only be saved if they offer wi-fi, sofas and hot drinks – in other words, change into Costa Coffe-style cafes with the added attraction of books, CDs and newspapers.
Would that be enough to tempt you back through the doors?
It wouldn’t for Mr Pendle – and he suspects it wouldn’t for many others either.