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“I've seen firsthand what we lose if we don't invest in libraries”

Posted On: 12 Feb 2020   |   Posted By: The Big Issue

It is true that the latest British library statistics make for dire reading. Over the last decade around a fifth of our public libraries have closed and just under a third of jobs have been lost. At the same time, the number of people both visiting public libraries and borrowing books continues to fall.
The way we consume books, information and knowledge has changed, and trends in library use reveal the changing demands of consumers. Yet library statistics also tell a more insidious story about the ways and means austerity is impacting on local communities.
Councils across the UK are being asked to manage huge spending reductions alongside mounting demand for social care. In this context, it isn't hard to understand why local authorities are choosing to protect core statutory services - nor why public libraries and other ‘discretionary' services are collateral damage in the process.
During my research for the Leverhulme Trust on public libraries and austerity, I've...

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