Sad world the one where there is not a week without hearing that more public libraries are about to close or have just closed. Yet, of course, this type of news doesn't appear on TV and doesn't make the headlines of the papers.
The media are far too busy with the buzz around the colour of a certain dress or discussing whether Kanye West could have been a greater artist than Picasso (sic). It just happens. Nobody cares. It has somewhat become the norm.
The hearts of these much-loved libraries are still beating though. Slowly. Very slowly. A slow pace that only does mean one thing: it is the end. It is the end, yet we still want to believe. We still want to believe that the councils will change their mind, at the last minute, and that everything will be back to what it was. It is not just a building that closes, not just books that won't be read, not just children and adults who won't be able to access Culture free of charge, but also people who lose a job that they love, from librarians to customer service staff, from educators to cleaners and other volunteers.
Somerset has for instance already approved plans to slash its mobile library service by more than half. Staffordshire county Council is also considering cutting its six mobile libraries and closing 24 of its 43 static libraries. Councils in Southampton and Buckinghamshire are also carrying out consultations on library cuts, with Southampton considering closing five libraries and its mobile service (meaning a loss of 18 jobs) and Buckinghamshire County Council intending to cut library hours at 11 libraries, equivalent to a full day per week. A week ago, Birmingham City Council confirmed the cut of the library hours of the city's landmark library, the Library of Birmingham that opened in 2013, by almost half (meaning a loss of 100 of its 188 staff), not without a fight. The only "good news" (sic) came last week from Rotherham, where it was announced that only one of the city's 16 libraries will go, after a number of changes in the council's original plans.
Bigger cities and capitals like London aren't spared with, for example, the Lambeth Borough Council planning massive cuts to its library service, including closing two libraries, ceasing the funding of three libraries, reducing one library to a few bookshelves, reducing hours at three other libraries and reducing the council's Home Visit Service.
Where does the nightmare stop? When all public libraries will be closed, or when selfless responsible politics will finally recognise the importance of the public service carried out by libraries in our communities and take sensible decisions about them?
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This post was first published on J.N. PAQUET's blog: www.jnpaquet.com