The Big Issue : Edition 582
WELL READ IT’S DAY FOUR of a Melbourne heatwave and I’m seeking refuge in the hushed cool of the State Library. It’s too hot to think in the sauna I call home. I run into Sharon, a Big Issue vendor, as I jump off the tram. “It’s bloody hot,” we say. It’s tough selling The Big Issue in any weather, but this oppressive heat makes it even tougher. It’s busy in the library: uni students, families, retirees. People wander through the stacks and take in the exhibitions. Others sit laptop-to-laptop in the rows of desks, caught in their private bubbles. A soft snore arises from a man to my right. That’s the beauty of the library, everybody is welcome. Democratic, secular and free, the library remains one of the most important public spaces. And, with it, librarians a most-trusted source of information – they may even be our new rockstars if Keith Richards has his say (page 46). It’s no surprise to me that the word library comes from the same Latin source as freedom: liber. Books and freedom are entwined. As author Neil Gaiman told a London audience in 2012: “Libraries are about freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication.” Libraries are more than a collection of books. They open a window to our history, to new worlds, to imagination. They provide access to digital resources and foster digital literacy. They are a safe space from the heat, the street, the bullies. They instil a love of reading and support lifelong learning. So then why are our school libraries fighting for survival? In this edition, contributing editor Anastasia Safioleas investigates the quiet demise of the school library, and its impact on our children and childhood literacy. As former Children’s Laureate Jackie French tells us: “There is an epidemic of library closures and it is hidden.” Amy Hetherington, Editor » ‘Your Say’ submissions must be 100 words or less, contain the writer’s full name and home address, and may be edited for clarity or space. YOUR SAY ED’S LETTER TAP AND YAY! I wanted to say a big thank you, and congratulations for such great training you give to your vendors. I recently bought a magazine from a vendor; he was polite. I wish I could remember his name...it could have been Michael T. When I told him I sometimes buy the magazine but I didn’t have any cash on me (I just don’t carry cash these days), he handed me an information sheet and explained that there were different ways to pay. “For next time,” he said. There was no pressure, no pleading, just information with no judgement. I bought a copy and said that I loved the fact that they are out there doing something for themselves, not just begging. He showed me the new tap-and- go device he had, and we did it together to make sure the sale went through. I shook his hand and thanked him for doing such a great job. Thank you, for all you guys do. Vanessa Hall, Brunswick, Vic Ed – Hi Vanessa, you’re spot on. You bought the mag from Michael T. issues of homelessness and disadvantage are complex, but if I can help make life a little easier for people who struggle to make ends meet it is the least I can do. Brian is just one of thousands of people who supplement his income by selling The Big Issue and now I know The Big Issue is much more than just another magazine, and Brian is more than just another person. Mark Green, Northfield, SA I just wanted to send a note of appreciation for Ed#580 of The Big Issue magazine. My office has a subscription for the magazine and I thoroughly enjoyed the layout and pieces for this issue. In particular, David’s story on p7 hit close to home for me. Keep up the good work, and I look forward to the next one. Jayne Nguyen, Sydney, NSW I first became aware of people selling The Big Issue many years ago, but was told by someone it was just stories about homeless and disadvantaged people. At that time I did not know how selling The Big Issue assisted the people who sold it, and I often would buy my copy from any vendor I passed on the street. As a regular movie buff I came across Brian who sells The Big Issue outside of the Palace Eastend in Adelaide. I now only buy my Big Issue from Brian, and over time I have got to know a bit about the man I help with my fortnightly purchase. The COVER #582 ILLUSTRATION BY FREDA CHIU THE BIG ISSUE USES MACQUARIE DICTIONARY AS OUR REFERENCE. MACQUARIEDICTIONARY.COM.AU Next edition’s Letter of the Fortnight will win a copy of Mark Brandi’s new novel The Rip. See our interview on p32. For your chance to win, send your thoughts, feedback and stories to email@example.com. As winner of this edition’s Letter of the Fortnight, Vanessa wins a copy of Peggy Frew’s new novel Islands.