Library Closures in the UK

You might know that in Fife there has been a campaign to keep libraries open, sixteen of them were singled out for the axe. The campaign has failed as although the closures have been postponed it’s only for a short time. One library might have a future but it is all very much pie in the sky at the moment with councillors suggesting that the library could move to a nearby high school. That’s a suggestion that seems to pop up frequently but I can’t see how that can work as schools are not the sort of places that should be open to random people walking off the street into them. The library access could end up being a honey pot for weirdos intent on getting a hold of youngsters for nefarious purposes.

Anyway, it’s a problem over the whole country and not only in the UK. You can read about the occupation of the Carnegie Library in Lambeth here.

Apparently the coucil in Lambeth plan to change the library building into a gym, with a few shelves of books in it, but there will be no librarians on the premises. The books are obviously just a sop to local readers and will be of very little use. Some readers have occupied the building. According to the BBC 350 libraries have closed recently in the UK and 8,000 library jobs have been lost. Andrew Carnegie will be birling in his grave, so if you’re in the vicinity of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Tarrytown – that’s what the funny noise is! Honestly, that’s where he is buried, he was in the US when he died, so no Skibo Castle resting place for him. It’s such a pity that he didn’t stipulate that the buildings he donated for libraries must not be used for any other purposes – or maybe he did and they are just ignoring his wishes.

The libraries in Fife are trying all sorts to generate some income, selling bits and pieces, including coffee. But what sort of person thinks that the profit from libraries can be counted in monetary values? Surely the gains are far more important than filthy lucre.

There’s a Friends of Carnegie Library Facebook page which you can see here if you’re interested in seeing how the campaign and library occupation is going.

It enrages me that people who read are always seen as being of no importance compared with others. Why is it seen as being necessary to have a gym in the area? We all know what happens in gyms – some people join in enthusiastically for a few weeks and then never darken the door again. It’s simpler to get fit on your own, just eat less and move more – walk.

I noticed that in the Glenrothes area of Fife the council workers are busy building cycle paths, no doubt at great expense, I’d really like to know how much it’s all costing. I just wish that the library users in Fife had as much get up and go – or should I say sit down and stay – as the readers in Lambeth have.

6 thoughts on “Library Closures in the UK

  1. I didn’t know Carnegie was buried in Sleepy Hollow! The next time I visit my niece and her family, who live there, I’ll take a peek at the cemetery and listen for him whirling in his grave.
    I’m also outraged by the closing of libraries, which they’re doing here in America, too. It seems odd to me that people are always yowling about more / better education, more teachers, more computers, pre-K education, etc., when libraries are more educationally democratic and, in my opinion, better value for money spent.

    • Joan,
      You’re absolutely right. It’s just the same here, they’re always going on about education and how the children in poorer families are being left behind – then they go and close the libraries that would most benefit those people.
      Say hi to Carnegie for me!

  2. I’m so sorry to hear this. I’m not sure what services your libraries offer in the UK, but here in the U.S., there’s been a great push to include free computers and technology education in the library systems. As a librarian, it was sometimes frustrating for me as I felt like I was constantly teaching people how to print (when the directions were clearly spelled out), yet I know that the free wi-fi and computers was a big reason they’ve been able to stay open.

    And I agree with Joan, people are always talking about education, yet when it comes time to pay for it, nobody wants to come up with the money.

    • Karen K.

      It’s the same here. Libraries have computers in them and they are necessary for people who don’t have access to one of their own. In fact libraries are often the hub of a community, a place where people can get help applying for jobs or have lessons in reading for those who struggled when at school. The noticeboards give all sorts of local information to people. Losing them rips the heart out of communities.

  3. Katrina,
    I believe that these closures are the most preposterous, unforgivable things that are so short-sighted. I lay the blame at your elected officials’ feet. Perhaps that isn’t fair, but it is our elected officials in the U.S., in New York State, in our local communities, who must be continually hounded, reminded, and blasted to keep libraries strong. I must say the American Library Association is a powerful lobby here, and has the resources to at least push droves of people to petition, write letters, and agitate.
    I feel very badly about your situation in the UK. Yes, Carnegie must be rolling over in his grave. What a horror! My horror of your library condition is so bad that I wish I could give your elected officials a tarring and a feathering. They are to blame for this.
    Please, I apologize for my passion. My sympathies,

    • Judith,
      I find it really annoying that THEY are taking the opportunity to cut back on things that they really don’t value, all in the name of austerity. (It’s all to keep us down – where we deserve to be! as far as THEY are concerned) But at times when the UK has been in much worse shape than now, such as at the end of World War 2 – those politicians managed to finance and set up the NHS.
      Locally so much money has been wasted on daft ideas and in trying to save money they ALWAYS end up spending much more than they would have if they just stopped tinkering with things. – I would go much further than tarring and feathering – given half the chance!

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