Are We Losing Our Libraries?

Did you know that during last year (2016) 121 libraries closed and that a further 340 library closures are due in the next 5 years? Also, did you know there have been over 8,000 redundancies made in the library industry in recent years?

Library closures were brought to the public attention in 2010 when council budgets were cut.  Although it may not be in the news as much as it was a few years ago, the library community is still dying.

Well-known ex-politician, author, and Strictly Come Dancing star, Ann Widdecombe recently visited the small Devon village of Uffculme, to speak at an event organised by the Uffculme Library Friends group. Ann’s visit was brought to our attention by our local newspapers who covered the event. During her visit Ann urged people to use their local library;

“If you do nothing else this week, go and borrow a book. It doesn’t matter if you want it or not, just go and borrow a book.”

“I think they [libraries] play a terrific role in primary schools and they play a big role to people who haven’t got easy access to transport who want to get books.”

Why are we talking about this?

After reading reports on the event and hearing what Ann was saying about libraries, we decided to do a little research into library closures. What we found out was shocking and actually quite terrifying. Libraries are pretty important to us, not just because we are in the book industry but, also because many of our staffs fondest childhood memories were made in them. Libraries play a huge part in communities around the UK; they provide many things to many people, but yet they are still closing down year after year.

Ann isn’t the only one that is passionate about keeping our libraries alive, lots of people around the UK including authors such as Philip Pullman and Mark Haddon have taken part in protests and petitions against library closures over the years.

Since 1964 the local authorities have had the duty of maintaining libraries under the Public Libraries and Museums Act, but since councils all over the UK threatened libraries with closures and cuts in 2010 it has led to volunteers being relied on to keep their library open. With an estimated cost of 1bn a year to run libraries nationally, there is no surprise that volunteer ran libraries are struggling to pay for big expenses such as maintenance and upholding their library status.

The Stats

The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) shows spending on local libraries has fallen by £25 million. Between 2014-2015 there was a cut of £50 million with 106 library closures. A stat in October 2016 showed that in the past 6 years there has been 342 closures and 8,000 redundancies. Last year alone we lost 121 libraries and only recently Plymouth, a local city to us, lost 5 of their libraries and 1 will be shut next year. Also, there are rumours that a further 340 closures will happen in the next 5 years.

Making you aware

Libraries are in serious danger and we want to make you aware of what is going on. Someone once described libraries as ‘a lifeline to the world and all the information in it.’ We understand that we now have the internet and e-books, but it’s not quite the same as what libraries can offer.

Why Libraries Are Important

  • They are a free educational resource
  • They are great for communities
  • Gives people things they may not have/afford at home (books, internet)
  • They are full of history
  • Provides a huge amount of information