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The decline of the library

Discussion in 'Personal' started by lanokia, Mar 29, 2016.


What is your attitude towards libraries?

  1. Love them, use them

    14 vote(s)
  2. Love them, never use them

    10 vote(s)
  3. A necessary public service

    6 vote(s)
  4. Dislike them

    0 vote(s)
  5. Loath them

    0 vote(s)
  6. Austerity needs cuts and we have the internet these days

    1 vote(s)
  7. Should have burned them like Alexandria

    0 vote(s)
  8. Shhhhh

    1 vote(s)
  9. Other [outlined below]

    0 vote(s)
  1. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    Sad to say it's a service I hardly use... though my wife was once a great user.


    Almost 8,000 jobs in UK libraries have disappeared in six years, about a quarter of the overall total, an investigation by the BBC has revealed.

    Over the same period, some 15,500 volunteers have been recruited and 343 libraries have closed, leading to fears over the future of the profession.

    Children's author Alan Gibbons said the public library service faced the "greatest crisis in its history".

    The government said it funded the roll-out of wi-fi to help libraries adapt.

    The BBC has compiled data from 207 authorities responsible for running libraries through the Freedom of Information Act. Our analysis shows:

    • Some 343 libraries closed. Of those, 132 were mobile services, while 207 were based in buildings (and there were four others, such as home delivery services)
    • The number of closures in England is higher than the government's official estimate of 110 buildings shut
    • A further 111 closures are planned this year
    • The number of paid staff in libraries fell from 31,977 in 2010 to 24,044 now, a drop of 7,933 (25%) for the 182 libraries that provided comparable data
    • A further 174 libraries have been transferred to community groups, while 50 have been handed to external organisations to run. In some areas, such as Lincolnshire and Surrey, the move has led to legal challenges and protests from residents.
  2. cuteinpuce

    cuteinpuce Star commenter

    I heard about this story on the radio this morning with real sadness.

    I love libraries, I consider them a great civilising influence and I hate the way they have been downgraded, deprofessionalised and starved of money over the years.
    InkyP, lanokia and FrankWolley like this.
  3. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Currently being discussed on R5Live 'Phone in'
  4. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    I go to my library to borrow books at least once a month...
    lanokia likes this.
  5. rouxx

    rouxx Lead commenter

    When I lived in the UK I used them extensively. Now I download what I need and I suspect were I to be in an English speaking country I would still not use the library as much as I used to. I have become accustomed to having new reading material instantaneously.
  6. cuteinpuce

    cuteinpuce Star commenter

    (Unfortunately, Nicky Campbell fills me with an even greater sense of sadness...)
  7. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    I loved the library as a child. By 14 I had read everything in the junior library and was allowed to choose from the adult one. I could spend hours there and the freedom to pick up a book, not like it and choose another was what helped develop my confidence as a reader.

    We need to keep libraries open. Kids like traditional papery books as well as their electronic counterpart and libraries give them the freedom to browse and find new things.

    I don't use a library now (except for my lovely school library where they order in things they think I might like!) but that's because I can afford to buy books. Closing libraries takes literacy and literature away from poorer people. It's a typical policy of this government in that it saves money and disadvantages those who might oppose them.
  8. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter


    I find him a lot more sensible that the majority of R5Live presenters... For example the muppets they have on in the afternoon!
  9. jacob

    jacob Lead commenter

    My nearest one went. The nearest one now is about six miles away. Once I am retired and have ny bus pass I may start to use it, but it seems a bit excessive to go in the car.
  10. InkyP

    InkyP Star commenter

    When I was a child we went to the library every Saturday and I always had a book on the go. I took my own child when she was small and used it a lot myself until I suppose workload stopped me being able to read much except in the holidays, then I got a Kindle and could download books cheaply or for free. I re-joined when I retired and generally use the small, local branch library. There is usually a parent and child or two using the children's area and often a group of some kind sitting round a table. I would hate this small branch to close and would volunteer if it could keep it open although I would also think it wrong to replace proper staff with volunteers.
    cissy3 likes this.
  11. dumpty

    dumpty Star commenter

    They should be kept as I find many pensioners use them as social clubs - going there to read the newspapers and have a little chat. It is good how some libraries are looking beyond being a books only and silence place and they really do keep smaller communities together.
    cissy3 and stupot101 like this.
  12. T0nyGT

    T0nyGT Lead commenter

    The only reason to want to save libraries is a romantic notion of their previous importance in society or when searching for an ultra-rare book which is yet to be digitised. I'm sure the same lamentation was commonplace during the fading of horse and carts but you can't stand in the way of progress. You can now use the internet to search far quicker for books, and once found you can download them instantly across all devices and sync reading positions and notes. Why spend time travelling to your library and searching through shelves when you can just click a button?

    They were great places, and I have fond memories of using them in the past, but they belong in the relegation zone.

    All of the freedom to browse they could possibly want is available on a Kindle or similar device.

    It would be far better to invest in the future and use money to increase poor people's access to technology than dusty shelves of books. Not is it far more ecologically sound a solution but an e-reader and access to an electronic library where books can be borrowed digitally has a higher benefit to those who are financially limited as they will have zero travel costs and an infinitely wider range of reading material.
  13. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    It's not the same. You need to know what to search for. There's not the option of just picking something up and flicking through it and you have to buy rather than borrow to get most decent stuff electronically. I'm a huge user of e-books but there is no way that using the search function is anything like browsing a library, especially for reluctant or uncertain readers.
    Are you sure?
  14. T0nyGT

    T0nyGT Lead commenter

    No you don't. Just go to Amazon's Kindle store and take a look. You can customise views in any number of ways you wish to. You can also browse completely randomly.

    There are previews available on almost all books now and increasingly so.

    That's because our government haven't invested in this. It's completely possible, it just needs some investment like any initiative.

    There is if you know what you're doing. As I said, you can pretty much customise your searches in any conceivable way as well as just browsing categories completely randomly. You could even quite easily build a virtual library that looks and works like the real one (but with a much wider range of books) for people who want easing in to the system.

    I think rather than real issues that can only be solved by libraries, most points are simply "but it's not exactly the same as the physical library" which is usually the argument when humans encounter change.

    I've still not heard of a single reason that has made me reconsider my opinion that libraries will not be missed. In 50 years time do you really think that people will be missing out on anything but not having huge building with a couple of books in it?
  15. Grandsire

    Grandsire Star commenter

    I mainly go to the library for OS maps - I use a SAT-NAV when driving but use OS maps to get a feel for the history and geography of an area before I go somewhere, and to get my bearings when I'm there). Many of my friends have the entire OS map collection (I go green with envy when I see their bookcases filled with those little pink spines) but my local library nearly always has the ones I need, - (and I buy them in charity shops when I see them so my own collection is steadily growing).

    While I'm there, I'll pick up a random collection of other books - poetry, travel, biography and fiction. I certainly couldn't afford to buy all the books I borrow, and I don't believe that everything can be enjoyed on a Kindle. The sort of non-fiction books I like best are big and come with maps, diagrams, family-trees and so on. Kindles are great for the trashy chick-lit and endless detective/crime fiction which fills the bookshelves of my local charity shops, but not everything can be condensed to a page of text on a screen without losing something. The Kindle's uniformity is dull, too - I like the different weights, colours and textures of the books I own and borrow.
    cissy3 likes this.
  16. mandylifeboats

    mandylifeboats Occasional commenter

    I go to our local library once a week with my littlies. It's part of their early childhood experience, as it was mine. I read my way through everything my local childhood library had to offer and was gobsmacked to discover that you could actually order a new book for nothing!
    There are always other women with young children in there, older people who seem to be reading the newspapers, and the internet access area is always full.
    Even though I can afford books, newspapers and broadband myself, I would be very sorry to see our local one go.
    cissy3 and InkyP like this.
  17. jacob

    jacob Lead commenter

    You sir, are a Philistine.
    Flere-Imsaho likes this.
  18. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    Previews are limited. My point remains that reluctant or uncertain readers don't have the skills to customise searches and even then you only get what you are looking for.

    Libraries are also places for sharing books and librarians are wonderful resources. My local library already runs the type of e-book borrow service you describe but I would still say that it needs to exist alongside physical books.
  19. T0nyGT

    T0nyGT Lead commenter

    Ok...and your arguments for the use of public money to keep libraries open instead of investing in future technologies are.........?
  20. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    There's no money to invest in future technology. It's not a choice of physical libraries or some amazing e-library. They're just closing the libraries.
    lanokia likes this.

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