Lost Faith in Libraries As the Government Gets Its Priorities All Wrong

Around 200 public libraries were closed in the UK last year, thanks to budget cuts within local government spending. Unfortunately, this trend is set to continue, and possibly get worse, over the next year or two. Experts have concluded that the possibility of up to 320 libraries being forced to close this year is very real indeed.

As finances continue to pose difficulties for the nation’s governing body, public services such as libraries will continue to suffer. Magnificent advances in technology, over the past 10 years or so, have made this a much easier decision to make for those responsible. Children and adults alike have gradually shied away from an interest in reading books, and turned to tablets and e-readers, without even having to mention the exponential rise in the popularity of downloading movies and TV series’.

The library genocide will likely have the worst effect on Sheffield, Newcastle, Manchester, and the London borough of Islington in 2013. However, the issue has been a prominent issue among communities all across the country for some time now.

Manchester’s council have plan to bridge an £80m funding gap, closing six libraries in the process. Newcastle’s prospective closures are delegated to 10 of its 18 libraries, whereas Sheffield’s 27 libraries could be cut down to 13, a loss of more than 50%. The most concern is over the area of Islington; where all 10 of the borough’s libraries could be facing the devastating order to close down.

Phil Bradley, president of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, explained – “I don’t think that 2013 is going to be any better than 2012 was to be honest. In fact if anything it’s going to be much worse. The postal lottery of library provision will continue to get worse, with some councils still doing their best to provide a good quality service according to their legal requirements, while other councils will continue to attempt to impose shortsighted cuts on their communities.”

On a positive note, it appears that there is still a large number of passionate library advocates out there. Last year North London’s Kensal Rise library was defended by its local residents protested plans to close it down. Residents of Sheffield and Newcastle have also stood up to try to save their respective public libraries, launching large-scale demonstrations and online campaigns against the planned closures.

It is extremely disappointing that the government feels that libraries are no longer a priority for education and entertainment. Hopefully, the spirit and dedication of those still interested in books will prove to be effective in saving at least some public libraries throughout the UK. However, one does sense that the people out there, are fighting a losing battle.