As the Coalition government’s austerity measures begin to bite deep into the budgets of local authorities across the United Kingdom, local libraries are the latest amenities to fall foul of them.
As funding for local councils is butchered, some see public libraries as a soft target, but in Gloucestershire, they’re not going down without a fight.
A petition which protested against plans to close libraries in the county has attracted more than 12,000 signatures, and has forced a discussion on the matter at the latest council meeting.
Organisation ‘Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries’ (FGL) took advantage of a new scheme which meant that any petition garnering more than 5,000 names could win a full council debate. In this case, the petition is the first to have secured the council’s full attention.
Spokesperson for FGL, Demelza Jones, celebrated the latest win in their campaign, commenting:
“Our petition is calling for an independent review of the council’s plans for our library services.”
“We are going to make a five-minute statement at the full meeting, then the council will debate the petition for 15 minutes.”
“These planned cuts will have a huge impact on the library service but overall it will save the council quite a small amount of money.”
The council, which is controlled by Conservatives, outlined plans to hand over the county’s 11 libraries to volunteers in a bid to reduce spending by £108m over the coming four years.
It is thought by some that the wealth of information available on the Internet has contributed to the closing of libraries across the UK. Whilst Wikipedia is a prime source for many students, the ease by which it can be amended or vandalised is seen by some as a cause for concern, especially those in the SEO industry whose jobs include managing the online profile of many clients.
The outcome of the meeting is expected to be made public early next week.