Things are bad all over, with economies slowed debt levels have become a more accentuated concern and all eyes are turning to public services. No program or service is safe from scrutiny, it seems, and in Brittan the fight is on to keep the nations libraries.
According to an annual report from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy the country has lost 347 libraries in past two years, down to 4,265. As grave as this sounds the news becomes more bleak when the figures for library attendance partly justify the closures. Visits to libraries across the UK have also dropped 2.4% in the past year and 6.7% compared with five years ago; and borrowing rates are down comparable figures.
So now the fight is on, with opponents claiming that: shutting down libraries is no way to improve public education, libraries also provide internet access to the less privileged, meeting places for social groups are a valuable community service, and they provide a service to job seekers looking to hone their resumes. Those in favor of the reductions to public spending point the aforementioned statistics, adding that not all libraries should be closed only the ones no longer being used; the same study indicates that while many libraries are being closed the largest libraries are mainly staying open. The Norfolk and Norwich Millennium library had 1.18m books issued and 1.34m visitors alone in the past year.
So is it simply a redistribution of resources, or are rural British getting the short end of the stick? And what are we to do about it? You can follow this story in The Guardian.