Are We Seeing The Beginning Of The End For The Lending Library?

Songbird BStarred Page By Songbird B, 3rd Feb 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1h3ke147/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Columns & Opinions

When recession hits a Country, the pain of Government cutbacks can be felt far and wide. Hard decisions must be made, but are the government attacking the soft underbelly of one of our national and educational institutions just because it is an easy target? Are we beginning to see the end of the Lending Library..?

Are We Seeing The Beginning Of The End For The Lending Library?

I can still see myself, as a young teenager of 13 or more, sitting on the carpet of my local Library, totally absorbed in whatever book had caught my eye at the time..
Time had no meaning for me in this haven. Sat among endless books, never knowing which to pick out next. It was a real cornucopia of treasure to my young teenage eyes and ever active seeking mind..
Even now, in my 50th year, I can see her, the little girl that used to be me..sitting there totally lost in that sea of adventure...

Growing up with three brothers, I was happy to escape into the double glass-doored world of books. I had my own space and I was content.
Walking home after closing time with my arms full of books, I remember my eager anticipation of the reading that lay ahead..Ah bliss..The joy of the Lending Library of my innocent youth.

And here I am, all these years later, still reliving that pleasure of walking in through the large glass doors of our Library, another town, almost another lifetime, but still the lure of the books call me back..but I wonder for how much longer....

Government Cutbacks Affect Us All..

Our Libraries here in the UK, are at constant risk of Government cut-backs...
Modern technology such as the home internet and e-books are keeping ever more people away from popping in to their local Library. Study resources are now easier and at your fingertips thanks to the introduction of the World Wide Web..
We can go now direct to source within moments..Have extensive information with the odd click of a Computer keyboard button. No more scanning endless books for hours to locate what we are looking for..Modern technology is truly wonderful...but it seems to come at a cost, and is that cost going to be at the loss of this wonderful institution?

Libraries are so much more than just a storage area of dusty tomes..
They are a place of peace, where life seems to take on a more sedate pace. A place where respect is still upheld, and values are still taught in respecting property..
They have tried to stay updated with the latest technological advances. Now in your local Library not only books take pride of place, as was the case in the days of my carefree youth.
Today they also have Computers with internet access for those not fortunate to have their own, and a varied selection of DVD's CD's and Audio Books for your home entertainment. Recent additions such as e-books are now accessible too.
The common Library is trying to move with the times, yet in a severely recession hit environment, the local governments are being restricted in their spending and having to make cuts in their budgets, and your local Lending Library is a prime target that is under scrutiny right now.

Use It Or Lose It...Libraries At Risk.

Some people seem to think that the Library has had its day. It filled a need in the community at the time, but those times have now passed and we need to move forward, not drag a foot behind in the past.
The majority of people own home PC's, (which doesn't take into account the 27% that do not), and general apathy and indifference has seen a fall off in steady attendance. We are stimulated by endless channels on 24 hour television, and can cherry pick any info we need within seconds due to Broadband speeds on our latest Laptops. Surely the pleasure of picking up a book is now passé..?

I couldn't disagree more.

This very afternoon I spent a pleasurable hour in my local Library, perusing the titles of varied eclectic books. I observed a mother come in with her young children, they couldn't wait to start choosing their selection of books..The youngsters excitement was palpable.. This was obviously a highlight of their week. It reminded me of how much I had enjoyed my visits as a child too, even though that now seems a somewhat dim memory..

This is why local Libraries need to stay open. Our children of today are the Adults of our future..Teaching them to enjoy this experience of learning in an environment designed to educate and stimulate young active minds still has a role to play in today's world.
Libraries are not out-dated, and we need them just as much now as we have in the past, yet at present they are under serious threat and facing devastating cutbacks, if not closures completely. The future is looking decidedly bleak...

Statistics ..

Map Key:
Red Pointer=Library closures announced by Council (includes wish to change to Volunteer run)
Blue Pointer=Individual Libraries At Risk
Red Triangle=Libraries Closed
Gents Sign=Staff Loss
Pins=Other Cuts.
Aberdeen has 8 Libraries under threat.

With the latest government cutbacks, we are in danger of losing 10% of Libraries through closures in this year alone, and it isn't only in the UK that we are seeing these cuts made to a much loved institution. The US are also seeing the demise of their local Libraries with hefty slashes made in governmental reform, and protests are being made from both sides of the Pond, but is anyone listening, as it seems to be falling on deaf ears.

E-books and e-readers are gaining popularity in our ever expanding technological world, but it is worth noting that in the US, 75% of publishing is still done in print, and though we are seeing an increase in the UK for e-readers, statistically, only 13% of the UK population have invested in this electronic form of reading. E-books are still thought to be very much in their infancy. It will be interesting to see how this progresses over a period of time.

In my small county of Wiltshire here alone in the UK, we are already seeing the budget for the purchasing of new books slashed from £861,000 to £720,000, and over 17 full-time Librarians were made redundant before Christmas.
The 10% cut means that 500 out of 4500 Libraries in the UK will close their doors for the last time. That means 500 Libraries a child will never enter, an Adult can no longer access for information and resource. It certainly makes grim reading..

We can go back to 1850, when the Public Libraries Act was originally drafted in the United Kingdom Parliament, which allocated power to the local boroughs to establish Free Public Libraries.

'The Act was the first legislative step in the creation of an enduring national institution that provides universal free access to information and literature, and was indicative of the moral, social and educative concerns of the time. The legacy of the Act can be followed through subsequent legislation that built on and expanded the powers granted in 1850 and the 4,540 public libraries that exist in the United Kingdom in 2010 can trace their origins back to this Act.' as quoted by Wikipedia.org

In 1964, an act was put in place that states: 'The duty of a local council to provide a ”comprehensive and efficient library service” is a legal obligation under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act. The Act also prohibits charging for book loans. ' Quoted by the 'Voices For The Library'

In a survey among School Children, 75% agreed that outside school, their Library was the second largest source of educational learning.

I often speculate if many of the successful Authors of today were influenced by the creativity they found on Library shelves throughout their formative years. I certainly know that my love of the written word came to fruition in such a hallowed environment...I wonder fellow writers, if yours may have too..?

Cutting Hours..Cutting Costs..

The harsh realities of today however, make for uncomfortable reading.
To try and cut costs in this day and age, the suggestion from local government is that if we wish to keep our educational institutions, and stop the doors closing on them forever, then perhaps they could be run by volunteers instead of paid professional staff. To me, this is a classic passing of the buck and typical of a governmental body to want to get something for nothing.
One wonders how this would affect the Data Protection Act?
The other proposal is cutting Library Opening Hours.. Reducing them down to a basic minimum will save expenditure on lighting, heating and staff requirements, but doesn't this also restrict the public's access to these facilities?
These are the very people the Councils want through the doors. I know there is a governmental logic in there somewhere..I just haven't figured it out yet..

Librarians are trained to possess a multitude of skills within their chosen career. It is rarely as simple as just stamping books out or accepting them back and placing them on the shelves, yet that is what we are being led to believe. The skills that Librarians are expected to hold are too long to list here, but please feel free to check on the link provided, to see for yourself that skill base required. As of most situations, things are rarely as simple as they may seem to the casual observer.

One personal memory I hold very dear to me that sums up the pure magic of a book, was in purchasing an Encyclopaedia for a young 9 year old child who had constant monitored access to a computer...
He looked through the colourful pages in absolute delight, and then turned to us and said ''It just feels so good turning pages for a change
'... Out of the mouth of babes as they say...

I am aware that my voice is just another crying out in the wilderness regarding the uncertain future of our local Libraries, but if you enjoy calling in and spending a few hours away from the house, reading books that you cannot afford to purchase in this time of recession, and encouraging your children to love and respect books and the world of magic that they bring, please make your voices heard too. One voice makes little noise, but a multitude of them makes a roar that our local governments cannot ignore..Don't let this be the beginning of the end for this wonderful institution. The loss may be far greater than we realise..

I end with some eloquent quotes taken from Voices for the Library that sums up the feelings of Library lovers everywhere:


*'I would live in a library if I could. I love the cathedral-like hush — a temporary reprieve from the noise and insanity of the crazy world outside its doors. People wearing thoughtful expressions as they peruse the shelves, or sit quietly leafing through books as though they are on some kind of spiritual journey. It feels so right somehow.'
As quoted by Carola

*'Hidden on the shelves of my local library were adventures in lands I would never visit, with people who would stay with me for the rest of my life.'
As quoted by Jo.

*'A library is not an obsolete dinosaur, it is not a pointless financial drain on the Government, it is a resource that allows people to learn, to grow, to visit books and each other...'
As quoted by Bryony

And last but not least:

Award-winning author Hari Kunzru shares what libraries mean to him:

*'I remember my first library card. I remember the excitement of the trips to the library, of choosing the four books I’d take back home. The habit of exploration has stayed with me. It was founded on the confidence that all those books on all those shelves belonged to me, were mine for the taking. If I was interested enough in any object in this large room, the librarian would stamp it and I would carry it out. That sense of entitlement was the foundation of everything I’ve done since in my life. I felt knowledge belonged to me (at least potentially), and have carried on exploring libraries ever since. I’m now a professional writer, and have access to great research libraries and archives, as well as the money to buy books. It’s a long time since I’ve borrowed a book from a local library. But I know that a public library is not the same as a book shop. It’s also not the same as the internet. The child choosing a book that, for a short time, will belong to him, is learning that knowledge is his, if he wants it. He’s learning that it’s a right. Libraries set people free. They’re not a luxury. They’re not a relic. We must fight to save them'.

* All quotes taken from Voices for the Library.

I really don't think that I could put it any better than that do you?


Related Link by Songbird B:
The Library...In Celebration Of National Library Day, February 4th 2012


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Photo Credits:
Ambro freedigitalphotos.net
Mohammed abushaban Wikimedia commons
Philafrenzy Wikimedia Commons
UK Map Google Maps.
Cartoon by Chip.png Wikimedia Commons

Tags

Budget Management, Budgeting, Budgets, Childhood Memories, Children, Children Books, Closures, Educational Centers, Educational Technology, Finance, Financial Control, Financial Crisis, Financial Future, Government Cutbacks, Government Money, Government Spending, Librarians, Library, Loss, Songbird B, Songbird B Article

Meet the author

author avatar Songbird B
Hi there! I am Songbird B, and I am a semi-pro female Jazz vocalist. I have a huge passion for Jazz music, and I love writing Poetry, which I have done all my life. I am very Spiritual in my beliefs, and love Photography, Music and Garden Design....I...(more)

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Comments

author avatar Songbird B
10th Feb 2012 (#)

Wow! That was fast Mark!!!!
Thanks for the Star..You have made me one happy woman! lol..

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author avatar Carol Kinsman
10th Feb 2012 (#)

This is just sad! I'm so sorry to hear that so many libraries are closing in the UK, too. They are so important, especially for under privileged children who's parents can't afford to buy books for them. This was a great article. Congratulations on another well deserved star page. Big hugs to you, my friend. :o)

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author avatar Songbird B
11th Feb 2012 (#)

It is sad, Carol, absolutely tragic to us who remember the joy and excitement going to the local library can bring. I know that the government has to make cutbacks but I just feel this is so short sighted in the longterm. This is something I feel so strongly about..So good to see you back here on my pages my friend..Hugs to you too \0/xxx

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author avatar Jules Castillo
10th Feb 2012 (#)

instead of closure, improving the facilities can be an options...

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author avatar Songbird B
11th Feb 2012 (#)

Some places have taken on Coffee shops inside them which is not such a bad idea Cowboy, plus some are trying to be multifunctional as well, but we all know that when these places close, they will never reopen..

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author avatar Jules Castillo
10th Feb 2012 (#)

an option

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author avatar Delicia Powers
11th Feb 2012 (#)

Wonderful Songbird, your hopes and mine... that the library never becomes extinct, just a perfect page and article my friend!

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author avatar Songbird B
11th Feb 2012 (#)

Ah bless you Delicia! I have nothing against technology, in fact I embrace it, but taking time out in a Library is like taking a breather from the world for a while. In Libraries people respect books and the knowledge they hold within, to me the internet and e-books could never gain that same level of respect.. I share your values dear friend, Libraries are part of our heritage..

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author avatar 1Faithmorgan
11th Feb 2012 (#)

I feel the same way about Library's - Not only are the calm and quiet but they hold books that have survived decades and some of them centuries - we should never let people forget just how important library's are in so many ways :)

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author avatar Songbird B
11th Feb 2012 (#)

Thank you Faith, I really couldn't agree more with your sentiments. Why is it we only value what we have lost, and not when they are at risk?

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author avatar Val Mills
11th Feb 2012 (#)

I couldn't believe what I was reading. As far as I know, our libraries here in NZ are safe for the moment. When ever I visit my local one, at least once a week, it always pretty busy, so we may be safe. I also have a visitors card for the Wellington library. Lets all hope the future of libraries is secure.

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author avatar Songbird B
11th Feb 2012 (#)

Strangely enough, as I was researching this article Val, I often heard that New Zealand and Australia are expanding their Libraries.. It seems to be the UK and the US that are hardest hit..People are starting to protest but the government seems to be riding roughshod over them as all governments seem to do nowadays..

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author avatar Ivyevelyn, R.S.A.
11th Feb 2012 (#)

I always visualized you as being here in the U.S., Songbird. Thanks for the information about the libraries. A wonderful page! You covered a lot of ground and obviously put in a lot of work. A well-deserved star.

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author avatar Songbird B
11th Feb 2012 (#)

No Ivy, I am a true Brit here in the UK..and I love my country very much but this is heartbreaking seeing what is being proposed to a much loved Institution.

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author avatar richardpeeej
11th Feb 2012 (#)

It is clear to see that you have had a love of libraries all your life Bev. I am a member of our local library though I don't use it as much now as I used to. I was also the departmental library rep at the university and responsible for choosing books for the department. A well written and well researched article my good friend and a worthy star merit for your great work.

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author avatar Songbird B
11th Feb 2012 (#)

Bless you Richard for your support in this. Yes, this is something that I feel very passionate about, as I'm sure do you, having been involved in Libraries yourself my dear friend. Thank you so much for looking in on me Rich. Hugs to you my friend xxx \0/

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author avatar Buzz
11th Feb 2012 (#)

This is what I was afraid about, dear Bev. Technological advances make the traditional go obsolete. I wish there would ways to preserve this important heritage. Hugs, my friend and smothering you with kisses..lol

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author avatar Songbird B
11th Feb 2012 (#)

This is what I fear the most Buzz, that in our forward technological advancement, we leave some of the finest parts of our wonderful heritage behind...Bless you for looking in on me my dear friend. Hugs and kisses to you too\0/x

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author avatar ChannelThePoetry
12th Feb 2012 (#)

yeah i thought the end of that age was already long gone lol

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author avatar Songbird B
12th Feb 2012 (#)

Am glad to say that this isn't so yet, but the way the government are going about cutbacks, it may not be long before it is..

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author avatar johnnydod
12th Feb 2012 (#)

I really hope this is not the end, a while back it was the local post office and at the time I thought why don't we incorporate them both in the same location.
Books are so valuable

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author avatar Songbird B
12th Feb 2012 (#)

Hello Johnny, yes we only have to see how few village Post offices there are now to see the devastation that this can cause to a community. I think such ideas as incorporating other at risk industries may be a way through this but will the government have that much foresight? A world without printed books is just unthinkable to me...

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author avatar Retired
16th Feb 2012 (#)

Bravo for a superb and informative star page, dear friend. Hope it's not the end.

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author avatar Songbird B
17th Feb 2012 (#)

Amen to that RD..Thank you for looking in on me my dear friend..

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author avatar NancyG in TN
19th Feb 2012 (#)

Very good! the cartoon has it right where it is open for only 2 minutes, I guess that's what we will have to expect with all the cutbacks

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