Sheffield City Council plans to close or abandon 60 per cent of the city’s libraries as part of a disproportionate hatchet “plan” that will save a mere 0.2 per cent of its budget.
But library closures are not an appropriate response to “austerity” budgets for two reasons: firstly because (ironically) the public’s need for library services increases during depressions or under austerity.
Secondly, for the same reason that amputation is not a popular weight loss regime, they’re not going to grow back and we’re going to be disabled without them.
Time and again, research around the world has shown that public libraries are not drains on an economy. The opposite is true, that libraries provide return on investment… it costs more to try to do without them.
If you doubt this, do some research yourself – the results of many studies are available online. Study them, think about them, what are the trends, what is your balanced opinion, do you doubt the wealth of evidence? If you don’t have a computer, you can use one at your local library.
And if you are confused by so much information, or struggle to decide what is reliable or significant, you could always ask the help of a trained librarian. That’s just another of the skills they teach our children, to not believe everything they read on the internet or in a newspaper, or a politician’s statement.