12/11/2012 04:06 GMT | Updated 12/11/2012 04:09 GMT

Future Of UK Libraries 'Drastic' Says Unison Secretary Dave Prentis

The future of libraries in the UK is in jeopardy because of "drastic" cuts and the "looming threat" of privatisation, a leading union warned today.

Unison accused the Government of "sleepwalking into a library crisis" which will deprive future generations of the book-lending and other services provided.

The union said that in the year to April, 100 libraries in England closed or were being run by volunteers or as a social enterprise.


Local authority library budgets in England have been cut by £122 million in the past two years, according to research by Unison.

General secretary Dave Prentis said: "Cuts, closures and now the threat of privatisation are seriously threatening the future of our libraries. The Government's failure to act, and the massive cuts it is inflicting on councils, are a recipe for disaster.

"Libraries have a long history of enriching people's lives. Since Victorian times they have been at the heart of vibrant communities. Now they are a vital resource for hard-pressed parents who struggle to afford books, for the elderly and for people looking for a job.

"There is a real chance that the library service we hand over to the next generation will be a shadow of its former self."

A Culture Department spokesman said: "We don't recognise this characterisation at all. The library service continues to thrive with almost 40% of all adults and three-quarters of children visiting libraries regularly.

"The latest figures from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy showed a net reduction of 35 static and mobile libraries in England in 2010-11.

"We will not hesitate to intervene where a council breaches it statutory duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service."