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Saving Public Libraries

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It appears that local authorities are looking to make big cuts in their public libraries, despite the fact that the total any authority spends on libraries is rarely more than 1.5% to 2% of the total council budget.

In particular authorites are looking at getting rid of paid staff and replacing them with volunteers - presumably on the basis that quite a lot of bookish people think it would be 'quite nice' to work surrounded by books! What next - volunteer train drivers? I'm sure a lot of people would have a go at doing that for nothing!!!

Anyway, public libraries are governed by the Public Libraries and Museums Act of 1964 which requires the relevant local authority to provide a comprehensive and free book lending service. Librarians have gone along with this - free book loans are something of a sacred cow but now it would make sense to amend the legislation to allow public libraries to charge, say, an annual subscription. After all, they charge for DVD loans and they charge overdue fines - but they have to lend books free.

So the new slogan for public librarians should be 'subscriptions to save libraries'!

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If their grants are cut by 30-40% they have to cut somewhere.

Rather employing volunteers to keep a library open than cutting social care for the elderly or vulnerable children - the area of spending after schools which accounts for the biggest part of most councils spend.

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Rather employing volunteers to keep a library open than cutting social care for the elderly or vulnerable children

True, but what I'm saying is that I think the case for public libraries being free might be getting very weak now and I think the legislation should be amended to permit them to charge for borrowing books - in the form of an annual subscription of, say, £10 or £15. That wouldn't be enough to make the service financially self-supporting but it would go a long way to making good the shortfall cause by cuts. And what if not many members of the public choose to pay their subscription? Well, that would mean that they don't value their library service and that there was little justification for providing the free service beforehand.

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I love visiting my local library, and - as old fashioned as it may appear - I am a big believer in libraries.

In my view there are plenty of other things that should be cut first: ALL child benefit; the money we p1ss away to thriving nuclear powers like Pakistan; money given to chavs for their heroin substitutes; and so on and so on. Leave libraries alone, for feck's sake.

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I love visiting my local library, and - as old fashioned as it may appear - I am a big believer in libraries.

In my view there are plenty of other things that should be cut first: ALL child benefit; the money we p1ss away to thriving nuclear powers like Pakistan; money given to chavs for their heroin substitutes; and so on and so on. Leave libraries alone, for feck's sake.

+1

Public libraries have been the hallmark of civilsation since antiquity

More prosaically they are also one of the few areas where I get a service in return for my Council Tax.

I would far rather spend money on books than giving it to deadbeats to piss away on Carlsberg Special Brew or Tennents Extra

If they go the we may as well give up

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I love visiting my local library, and - as old fashioned as it may appear - I am a big believer in libraries.

In my view there are plenty of other things that should be cut first: ALL child benefit; the money we p1ss away to thriving nuclear powers like Pakistan; money given to chavs for their heroin substitutes; and so on and so on. Leave libraries alone, for feck's sake.

I agree. I'm happy to pay tax for facilities that everyone can enjoy (parks, swimming pools, libraries etc) rather than endless handouts to feckless individuals.

Trouble is a lot of what libraries do is redundant, eg, reference books have been replaced by the internet, and fiction may not be far behind. It costs 80p to order a book from my library if they don't have it (and they very rarely have what I like to read which is English fiction from about 1880 to 1970), but only about £2 to order most of them second hand to own yourself off the internet. Libraries have tried to adapt by introducing computers etc, but with home computers and internet access getting cheaper all the time, the outlook is not good.

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I agree. I'm happy to pay tax for facilities that everyone can enjoy (parks, swimming pools, libraries etc) rather than endless handouts to feckless individuals.

Trouble is a lot of what libraries do is redundant, eg, reference books have been replaced by the internet, and fiction may not be far behind. It costs 80p to order a book from my library if they don't have it (and they very rarely have what I like to read which is English fiction from about 1880 to 1970), but only about £2 to order most of them second hand to own yourself off the internet. Libraries have tried to adapt by introducing computers etc, but with home computers and internet access getting cheaper all the time, the outlook is not good.

Quite agree. In my neck of the woods it costs 4 quid to get a book ordered for you. New stock is minimal. Anything out of copyright can be downloaded in minutes and read on a laptop. That leaves only a few shelves of actual books needed in a typical local library.

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E-books might pose a threat to libraries (and bookshops) in the longer term but at present libraries still provide a valuable service to a lot of people.

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  • 239 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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