Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Save your local! Should volunteers help keep our public libraries open?

Public libraries | UK | Volunteers

Alison Flood  | Tuesday 8 August 2017

Kensal Rise Library in London, where volunteers have set up a community library. Photograph: Martin Godwin for the Guardian    
Readers checking a book out of the village library might not immediately notice much of a difference, but Congresbury is the latest public library to haven been handed over “to the community”. You may be used to libraries being run by volunteers – maybe your local is – but this structure is relatively new. Over the last decade, as many libraries began closing across the UK due to swingeing cuts to local authority funding by central government – 121 libraries closed last year alone – some have instead been handed over by councils to the community to run.

Since librarian Ian Anstice began charting the cuts to UK libraries on his campaigning website Public Libraries News in 2010, 500 of the UK’s 3,850 remaining libraries have now been taken over, at least in part, by volunteers. “I’ve been looking at the count going up steadily for the last few years,” says Anstice. “In 2010, there were a handful – perhaps 10 in the whole country. So this is quite a staggering change.”  Read more:

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