Library Cuts: UK Closures Ahead Of US, And More To Come For Both
February 5, 2011 was Save Our Libraries Day in the UK, complete with interactive map to find the nearest protest. And in the US, this video of a grown man crying over the closure of a local library went viral. UK libraries chief Roy Clare was shamed into an apology to nine-year-old Jessica Trueman for comparing her campaign to save her local library to "tears shed by teenagers over the break up of boyband Take That."
Another plan to keep book lending alive takes the practice out of libraries and suggests, according to The Independent that it be brought to unexpected venues:
Libraries axed under coalition spending cuts could be resurrected in pubs, shops and GPs' surgeries if radical proposals being studied by ministers are put into action.
Councils have already invited Starbucks to open coffee bars between the book shelves to generate funds, while people in rural areas are being told that they can keep up their reading by borrowing e-books.
If your blood is starting to boil at the shoddy treatment of the sentiments of book and library lovers, you're not alone. Anti-cut and anti-library closure protests are popping up on both sides of the Atlantic and spreading to the Pacific. The protests are having no effect. Libraries are being shut, and those left open are operating on slim budgets after deep cuts.
With ebook and ereader penetration growing ever deeper, does it even matter if we have libraries?
The answer seems to be a resounding "yes." eBooks is still in its infancy. In the US, 75 percent of a publisher's business is print books and in the UK, though ownership of ereaders doubled over Christmas, according to The Bookseller, ereader ownership is still only 13% of the population. Additionally, not every publisher has made a decision over lending ebooks: HarperCollins had put a cap of 26 times for ebook lending.
In the US, libraries now serve a crucial function--they are job research and resource centers, providing free computer and Internet access for those seeking employment. It's an unexpected side-effect of a difficult economy and is detailed in this report by the president of the American Library Association.
What's your opinion? Are you joining the fight to keep libraries, or will you be happier reading in a pub?