The Mayfield district of Dalkeith near Edinburgh has been chiefly known for its youth vandalism and its consumption of Buckfast the drink of choice for the discerning undereducated and unemployable. When the graffiti artists cannot spell their own names you know that there are problems.

Never fear, Midlothian County Council have taken steps to address the situation. On 2nd February, or ‘Love Your Library Day’ as the Council has decreed it, in an attempt to drum up business the local library will hold free pole dancing sessions. For those who are not interested in the allure of pudgy Scots shaking their all too ample stuff in the reference section there will be the opportunity to play ‘booky table tennis’ using the library stock as bats.

Coming To A Library Near You
Coming To A Library Near You

Council bosses at Midlothian Council hailed the event as the first as its kind, and described it as a “fun and interesting” way of encouraging people to use libraries in the area. It is rumoured that other “fun and interesting” ways of using the library such as lager drinking competitions and ‘booky rugby’ were reluctantly rejected as being too elitist for Mayfield.

Bob Constable, Midlothian Council’s Cabinet member for public services and leisure, has defended the library’s pole-dancing event and described it as a “fitness session.” According to Mr Constable, “Love Your Library Day is a marvellous opportunity for us all to celebrate the hugely important role libraries play in the heart of our local community.”

Nikki Clark, the pole dancing instructor offering the free lessons, said that the rationale behind the pole dancing was that, “They just want to promote the library so it’s not just for reading books.” Well obviously, according to Midlothian Council a library is also a place for exotic gyrations and book destruction.

Merely getting people through the doors of a building on any spurious pretext is scant indicator that they will return to use the building for its intended purpose. Has the Council done any research which would indicate that pole dancing events will increase literacy in Mayfield, or are they just working on the assumption that it will raise the cultural standards of the area?

Before Christians get all smug about the inanities of Midlothian County Council perhaps we should reflect on the activities of some churches. We see the same in those churches where just about any activity is used as a pretext for getting people through the doors and familiar with the surroundings so that they will later enter for worship.

It doesn’t work. People aren’t stupid, by and large they know when they are being conned (except of course those who habitually vote Lib Dem). They will take advantage of the peripheral which they see as being to their benefit and ignore the main event which they see as boring and irrelevant to their daily lives.

The only way of filling libraries, or churches, is making it clear that it is the main event which is relevant and of importance to their lives. To get people into libraries you must promote literacy. To get people into churches you must promote Christ.


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