We’ve heard on the grapevine that the Mayor of Doncaster will be speaking on BBC Radio 4’s You & Yours programme at midday today. Listeners are invited to call in:
“Are councils right to save money by closing public libraries – has the easy availability of affordable books made libraries less important than ever?
As local councils look for ways to save money, many have identified cuts in their public library services. These cuts have been vociferously opposed by a number of high profile authors as an attack on a vital educational service.
But are lending libraries really as essential as they once were? Supermarkets are selling popular novels at knock-down prices, bookshops offers 3 for 2 on a wide range of publications, paperbacks can be ordered online for the price of a takeaway meal, and books can be bought for tuppence from second hand shops. And now as online retailer Amazon reports sales of their e-reader made up more than 15% of their paperback sales last year in the US, are we wise to spend scarce public funds on our libraries?
But many libraries fulfil more needs than just reading. What does your library do for you? Could you live without it? How do you and your family access literature?
An opportunity to contribute your views to the programme.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 03700 100 444 (lines open at 10am).”
Edit: You can listen to the recording here. Statements from the Mayor include the assertion that library use has no impact on literacy (the opposite to recent findings from the National Literacy Trust), that he despairs at libraries expert Annie Mauger’s view that libraries have an important role in society, that there isn’t an argument to support libraries, and that this “attack on frontline services” (direct quote) with disproportionate cuts (his admission) is perfectly acceptable, even though he says that libraries are “essential”.
We’re disappointed that the Mayor has absolutely no interest in enlightenment. If he had read the consultancy report into the library service, he would see many examples of the ways in which libraries in other areas have a natural role in the support of other council services such as education, healthcare, social services and, most importantly on his agenda, old people’s services. To dismiss the role of libraries and deny their obvious involvement in supporting literacy is ignorant at best.