Union calls on the government to ease council cuts

Tim Lezard

booksUNISON is calling on the government to ease the drastic cuts that are hitting councils, to save local libraries for readers today and for generations to come.

According to Public Libraries News, since April 2012, 76 libraries have been either closed down or transferred out of local library control to be run by volunteers or social enterprises. Between April 2011 and March 2012 a further 130 libraries were closed or withdrawn, taking the toll to more than 200 in the last two years.

Those libraries that remain open are being dangerously hollowed out, with drastic cuts to book budgets, to trained librarians and to opening hours, said the union.

With the majority of councils not yet half way through the cuts demanded of them by central government, the union is warning that even more communities stand to lose their local libraries in the lifetime of this parliament.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Deep Tory cuts will leave a lasting legacy on our local communities. The loss of hundreds of libraries, and the dangerous hollowing out of those that remain, will be felt for generations to come.

“Children from the poorest families will suffer the most, as will their chances of a decent education. Low income families are struggling to afford the basic essentials, let alone books.

“Countless high profile writers have highlighted how crucial their local library was in their development. How many best-selling books will now not be written because budding writers did not have access to a decent local library?

“Unless the government acts now to ease the multi-billion pound cuts to local government budgets, hundreds more libraries will be lost.”

A comprehensive list of cuts and closures in the last two years is available here.

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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