Once children were considered to be in poverty - be it absolute or cultural - if they had no access to books. But now, access to books is increasingly considered old fashioned or unnecessary, for both children and adults.
It is not cuts which have undermined or destroyed public libraries. Birmingham's new library cost an astonishing £189 million, a project of breathtaking ego and waste. Instead it is the faddish approach to knowledge and naivete towards new technology which have turned library after library into a pale shadow of their former selves.
Librarian Carol Honey had a superb letter in the i of 18 August 2015 which best described this reckless abandonment of book based learning:
As a librarian and frequent visitor to Birmingham, I looked forward to the opening of the new library with eager anticipation, but when I made my first (and only) visit I could have wept. At the entrance you are greeted by a large cafe, reception and shop - no hint of the type of building you are in. The signage is confused with floors described as 'Knowledge' or 'Discovery'. What is wrong with Fiction, Non-fiction or Reference?
Two huge neon-lit escalators to the first floor were full of schoolchildren chasing each other up and down and screaming loudly. I couldn't blame them, it looked like a shopping mall. When I eventually found the book stock, I was appalled at how poor it was. Disappointed doesn't begin to describe my feelings.