A really interesting author’s eye view of the case for libraries – read on…..

At a time when the Local Government Association has warned that more libraries will be closed and councils struggle with their finances, it’s important to think about what we might be losing. Perhaps the problem with libraries is that they are free. We don’t value what we don’t pay for directly.

Librarians are qualified to degree level, yet we think it’s acceptable to replace them with well-meaning volunteers. Much has been spoken about library closures and I’ve ranted about this too, but now I’m becoming concerned about the de-skilling of our service.

We need the people who run our libraries to understand the potential of books to inspire, inform and change lives. They should have the confidence to display the new and the quirky: books in translation, short fiction, graphic novels. If there’s no guaranteed market for these books, they won’t be published and we’ll all be the poorer.

Of course libraries are worth saving because they nurture imaginations and give us access to the wider world, but there are economic arguments for supporting them too. They are necessary just because council funding is tight and social policy unforgiving. They provide a safe neutral space for people to look for work and they’ll be essential when the government enforces online benefit application. In many communities the library is the only place where young people are introduced to any form of artistic activity.

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