Monday, 15 November 2010

New Dark Ages Arrives with More Libraries Hit and Authors striking out at Government

More local authorities have announced job losses or closures, in the latest set of library cutbacks.


Buckinghamshire county council is proposing to cut its council-run libraries from 26 to nine, according to local radio station Mix96, a huge cut back that will affect staff, public and authors.  The council, which is looking to make savings of £90m over the next four years, is consulting on a plan to move a number of libraries to community-run status, if volunteers can be found and if not then these will probably close. The move to community-run status is part of the new structure for its library service.

Libraries are also set to be affected by major spending cuts at Stoke-on-Trent city council, according to the BBC. Two libraries and the mobile service will have their funding pulled as part of a council bid to save £33m in the next year, the BBC said.

In London, writers including Charlie Higson, Will Self and Helen Dunmore have joined former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion in condemning plans by councils that could see 130 London libraries closed.


The Evening Standard reports the authors urging officials to reconsider the cuts to a service used by some 3.4m Londoners 52m times a year.

Helen Dunmore, the inaugural winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction, said: "It will weaken literacy and weaken communities. They are not a frill, they are a vital part of society. They are a core service at the time of so much uncertainty and unemployment.

“I've always been moved by the enthusiasm of library staff and the way they go beyond the call of duty. Once that is destroyed you cannot build it again.”

Among the councils that will see services cut are Lewisham, Wandsworth, and Hammersmith and Fulham, with Camden and Westminster councils planning to use volunteers to run some services. In addition, twelve members of staff in Hounslow have been made redundant, according to a report in the Hounslow Chronicle. The job losses follow the closure of an ICT skills centre, said by authorities to be underused, and a restructure of library staff across the borough

Will Self said: "Libraries should be one of the aspects of public services that doesn't come under cost-benefit analysis. They exist as a public service and that should not be negotiable. I think they should have never let the internet into libraries, it diminishes the perceived value of the book stock. Now everyone thinks you just have to Google Plato, you don't have to read The Republic."

Higson said: "“Librarians are not just people in libraries making sure the books are in alphabetical order, they do a lot of fantastic work in schools and for literacy."

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