Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Writing - Love your libraries

Serious and sad news out this morning concerning the demise of libraries in the UK

Image result for uk public library
Public Library

I remember as a child being quite excited when it was library day. I never attended a reading session in a library, they probably hadn't started happening in the 1950s, I just loved books. 

There is a conflict these days. 

If we needed to find something out for school we would carry out that research in the library at school or failing that the public library. Now you just need to Google!
Successive governments have insisted that we need to cut public services because of expense and this is the other direction from which libraries are suffering. Like so many aspects of life where there is abstract value, such as the atmosphere in libraries that encourage learning research and relaxation, the attitude seems to be if we can't measure it it has to go.

Here are some of the facts,

Almost 8,000 jobs in UK libraries have disappeared in six years, about a quarter of the overall total, an investigation by the BBC has revealed.
Over the same period, some 15,500 volunteers have been recruited and 343 libraries have closed, leading to fears over the future of the profession.

Image result for alan gibbons

Children's author Alan Gibbons said the public library service faced the "greatest crisis in its history".
The government said it funded the roll-out of wi-fi to help libraries adapt.

The BBC has compiled data from 207 authorities responsible for running libraries through the Freedom of Information Act. Our analysis shows:
  • Some 343 libraries closed. Of those, 132 were mobile services, while 207 were based in buildings (and there were four others, such as home delivery services)
  • The number of closures in England is higher than the government's official estimate of 110 buildings shut
  • A further 111 closures are planned this year
  • The number of paid staff in libraries fell from 31,977 in 2010 to 24,044 now, a drop of 7,933 (25%) for the 182 libraries that provided comparable data
  • A further 174 libraries have been transferred to community groups, while 50 have been handed to external organisations to run. In some areas, such as Lincolnshire and Surrey, the move has led to legal challenges and protests from residents.

The final point does show that there is interest in retaining a library service. Government does have a Library Working Group, but I am cynical about the intentions of a government that is so profit driven.

God Bless