Are libraries finished? Five arguments for and against

With more than 400 public libraries under threat of closure in the UK, the campaign to save them is gathering pace. But in an age of downloads, cheap books and easy online shopping, can this great British institution survive?

Some of the UK’s best-selling authors have joined the fight against “cultural vandalism” by backing a national day of protest read-ins against library closures on Saturday.

But no matter how eloquently Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy or author Colin Dexter extol their virtues, the fact is library visitor numbers – like their budgets – are falling … Read more

(This article has some interesting points on both sides…but I have to say I disagree that “library visitor numbers, like their budgets, are falling”.  Tell that to the staff who opened up following New Years! 😉

Sargia Harrison
Learning & Information

2 thoughts on “Are libraries finished? Five arguments for and against

  1. Alan February 9, 2011 / 10:31 pm

    My experience (although a few years ago now) of working in a UK library was that they had suffered years of underfunding and poor strategic planning. The library network I worked for had comparatively little in lending fiction as people tended to buy books for themselves. As a result they are probably not well placed to pick up on recession influenced library use. Libraries often had massive video and dvd collections as though they were trying to compete with video stores. Vast amounts of money were spent on standing orders for unused reference tomes whilst electronic resources were grossly underfunded. The library website was uninspiring and lacked content, the buildings were mostly dingy and uninviting and the opening hours were poor. I am not surprised libraries are being threatened with closure, talk of libraries being irrelevant in the UK is not new.

  2. Sue C February 10, 2011 / 8:36 pm

    My experience is even older than Alan’s. In the late 1980s when I worked in the UK public library system, back in NZ we were offering mediated online searching at a cost, but in the area in which I worked it was unheard of. Collections on the other hand were good with comprehensive fiction, non-ficiton and music. More recently I know that in some local authorities, e.g. Norfolk, public libraries have received considerable EU funding to modernise facilities and collections, so there is probably a lot of variation in levels of service and collections.

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