I have just heard the sad news that the Talbot Library - "The Library of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lancaster" as it is styled - is to close. This stark announcement appears on the "Notices" section of the website:
"After careful consideration, the Bishop and Trustees of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lancaster have decided that the Talbot Library will close permanently on 31st December, 2013."
The library holds 50,000 books as well as periodicals, sheet music, parish histories and early printed books. It holds important collections including collections on Irish history, Lancashire local history (especially the Reformation), the Shrewsbury Diocese Collection and important collections on G K Chesterton and Belloc.
I don't know what the circumstances are - I presume financial pressures - and I have no information on what is to happen to the library's contents and collections. Perhaps it could go to Maryvale? The number of Catholic academic institutions continues to dwindle - I don't suppose the library at Ushaw College is likely to be taking on any new collections, now that the seminary itself has closed. I do hope the contents of the Talbot are not to disappear hither and thither without trace. It has been used a great deal by many Catholic scholars for research - in other words, it's not just a collection of diocesan ephemera but an important resource for Catholic studies. The library stands on the same site as the fantastic St Walburge's church, famous for having the tallest spire of any parish church in England - is there a plan for the overall site? Regeneration? Further decline?
Interior of St Walburge's, with its hammer-beam ceiling
It does seem that as a Church in this country we place so little value on our history, our historical places, buildings, literature and art. As the old saying goes, if we don't know our history, we don't know who we are. “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” (George Orwell) This lack of interest and even irrational hatred of our past is a sure-fire way to allow ourselves to be blown about in the wind, with no roots (that we're aware of) we go along in the direction of any new fad or fancy that comes along. Look how well that's been working for us in the last fifty years!