Thursday, October 13, 2011

10% of UK's Public Libraries "Under Threat"

Library cuts:  The battle of the bookshelves.  (BBC News, 10/12/2011)

Excerpt: The High Court in London has ruled in favour of Brent Council's proposals to close six of its 12 libraries in a landmark case that was keenly watched by those fighting hundreds more closures up and down the UK.

Across the country, a series of small wars are quietly being waged.

The battlegrounds are public libraries, more than 400 of which are under threat - around one in 10 libraries in the UK, according to campaigners.

On one side are local councils who have earmarked closures as a way to save money after being handed a 27% cut in central government funding over four years.

On the other are librarians, library users and authors, who believe local libraries are vital centres of literature and learning.

They are passionate and, as you would expect, well organised and well informed. It is a rather civil war.

The Brent decision hinged on the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act, which says local authorities must provide a "comprehensive and efficient library service", and may determine how far other local authorities can go with their planned closures.

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