Being a traditionalist, I welcome change with a tepid handshake and a courteous “how do you do?” to save rolling the red carpet out for what often proves to be the permanent house guest from hell. I enjoy the sight of a red telephone box (although the glass BT ones were always a bridge too far), a Ford Capri Ghia or even a glass of Sunny Delight, at a push, but eventually, inevitably, a change has gotta come.

As a child, the library was revered and often frequented. In the days before Waterstones became a high street mainstay and long before they fused the peculiar notion of plonking a coffee shop near to easily stained book pages in house, it was the only place to borrow, free of charge, at first, the tome of any genre which floated your boat. I would often take out the latest football annual or Beano book, safe in the knowledge that, as long as I handed it back on time, I wouldn’t have to pay - and even if I handed it back late, I wouldn’t have to pay anyhow, as that’s what parents are for.

But now I drag my daughters along, maybe for selfish reasons of reminiscence, as they engage with the library ‘experience’ for 30 seconds before badgering me as to whether they can go do something less boring instead (which generally involves Minecraft and a currency called ‘Robux’ which is as alien to me, as a library is to them).

I’d like to believe the library has altered its offerings over the years, and adapted with the times, but despite tokenistic gestures, it has not. Yes, it’s difficult with its core product of ‘books’ which limits its ability for change somewhat, coupled with lack of funding as councils trim services to re-channel your council tax funds towards paying for litigation purposes and the employ of gender awareness officers, yet it will be a crying shame when, not if, they finally go to the wall.

All libraries look like they need a serous paint job. The opening times never seem to be the same two days in a row, the books often look tired and tatty and are plastered in bar coded markings. The choices are stark and competition now fierce, coupled with the knowledge that if you are a week late returning your read, you will have to remortgage the house to pay the punishment fine metered out.

The only real nod to current times is the self-checkout screen which, strangely, the staff in libraries (as in supermarkets) direct you to, not realising that the more of us that use them, the more of them lose their jobs as the technology makes them even more redundant than ever before.

So, on their knees, and with councils looking for an excuse to kill off the chaff, along lumbers Covid to put the final nail in the bookworm’s coffin. With libraries now closed, even if open, it would prove unmanageable with 72 hours advised between touching a book and another human getting their grubby paws on it, which would no doubt provide a logistical nightmare for librarians who just want to devour a good read during the expected and ever more frequent lulls.

They never managed to secure a budget to buy those new sticks of furniture, you cannot browse the internet in peace as there is always some loud nosey sod peering over your shoulder, that’s if you can get onto a machine that’s vacant or not broken, and there is no Kindle facility for those who have moved, even as laggards, with the techie times. The staff generally wouldn’t say boo to a goose, not that there is anything wrong with that: I would surmise you gain a job in the library as you enjoy books and a bit of peace and quiet. But the truth is there is no magic bullet that is going to fire home its continued existence to ensure longevity beyond a few years hence.

It’s a crying shame and a relic of the past it will, no doubt in the future, be turned into nondescript offices, a dance hall or a block of flats as the council cashes in on their assets as they bump up their reserves on one hand and plead poverty with the other.

You want to save your local library, then you need to shout up and be heard. There’s no room for bookishness and at the current rate of knots we will be Googling this strange concept in a few years’ time as we attempt to educate the grandkids and explain what a ‘librarian’ was.

Brett Ellis is a teacher who lives in London Colney