Are we seeing the end of Public Libraries….?

Since finishing in the NHS Library sector I’ve re-acquainted myself with the public library service.

Some really good stuff is going on

  • Lots of self service
  • Online books, talking books and online journals
  • Lovely new library buildings – I’m off to look at Birmingham next month. My local authority fairly recently revamped a building in the centre of the town to replace the old library (2011…)

But what I am seeing is the systematic deconstruction of the backbone of the service – the library staff.

Staff will always be the most expensive part of any public facing service. But council cuts have forced budgets to be drastically reduced across council services and library services are seeing massive reductions in staff and services. This budget reduction is due to Tory political dogmas around Austerity and their belief in public service being better provided by the private sector. Not founded on  the excellence of the service by properly funded professional and full time staff – but on pure cost and the ability to get away with the minimum service they are legally required to provide at the cheapest cost.

Savvy councils are seeing how emotive this has been in the past and are now craftily changing their tack in library service. Seeing the willingness over local users to fight to save their local service by volunteering to keep libraries open over the past 30 odd years – instead of “closing” the service – they offer small sites to be run by local community organisations – just supplying the building and the library stock. Volunteers keep the service running. With no criticism of these well meaning people – professional librarians and library staff now are losing their jobs and local communities are losing their expertise.

So this website will be looking at the toll that it taking on the ability to provide a professionally led and fully paid staff running and managing libraries to our communities and will highlight all campaigns and those institutions involved in de-stabalising this once national icon – the Public Library Service.

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