According to the UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, there is a “clear and present danger” facing Britain’s public library service. Over the past 10 years, 343 libraries have closed and 8,000 paid library jobs have been lost, reports The Bookseller. This is a significant drawback for the country’s library presence: Britain only has 4,100 libraries in total. The drawback has resulted in a 32% reduction in the number of weekly library goers in the past 5 years. This is devastating and the worst part is we have no idea when it is going to stop.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has gone as far to say that there is a “war on our libraries, museums, and our galleries.” He added that, “these valuable public services which reflect, support and celebrate the rich diversity of our communities should be nourished, not destroyed.” We couldn’t agree more.
In response to the government drawback, a large demonstration will be held on November 5th in an effort to bring attention to the dwindling number of bookstores. A number of unions are supporting the event including: Barnet UNISON, The PCS Cultural Union, and Unite the Union and Campaign for the Book. So if you have some vacation time this Fall, it may be a good time to visit America’s mother land for the sake of literature.
Image courtesy of http://bit.ly/2bPQmPZ
On the 5th, those attending the event will march from the British Library in London to the House of Commons in Westminster. The walk is about 2.5 miles and will take a little under an hour to complete.
All of this, of course, is a result of fiscal cutbacks by the British Government. The Labour party has even made the argument that this is a way for the current conservative party to keep the poor powerless. This shows that closing the libraries is more than just a fiscal war, it’s a culture war.
I will not sit here and pretend to know all the ins-and-outs of the British economic/cultural system. But one thing I do know is that libraries are crucial for providing an education to those who may not have access to books. Money is always tight for governments, but I have no doubt that there are other ways of saving money that do not involve closing libraries. Whatever the truth is, let’s hope libraries come out on top.
Featured image courtesy of http://ind.pn/2bPPOtE.