Library decline

I was saddened - if not surprised - to read the latest story about the future of libraries, this one saying that a third of libraries could close in Essex.

As a regular library user since childhood, I have never come to terms with the magic that walking into a library means accessing and taking away free culture, entertainment, knowledge and challenge to mull over in your own time.

But in my local library in south London the security is more visible than the book-browsing punters, the ‘events’ listed on the website comprise a weekly stop smoking clinic and the schedule of staff requires an advanced degree to interpret.

What are always busy are the meeting tables and PCs with free internet access, the children’s corner with toys and resources. The library is a great community convening space, and the most vulnerable members of our society are disproportionately affected when one closes.

Around this, the opportunity to serve the interested audience remains. Where are the book groups? The readings by local authors? The music nights such as those hosted by Get it Loud?

The inevitability around the decline of libraries is hugely frustrating when they are so patently under-utilised and poorly understood by the people who run them.

Laura DavisComment