Without action, library closures likely to double

If the government does not act urgently to halt drastic funding cuts, local authorities could see 340 public libraries close in the next five years.

The Chartered Institute of Librarians and Information Professionals (Cilip) has warned that those predicted figures equal the number of closures witnessed by the sector over the past eight years.

Despite new Libraries Minister Rob Wilson promising protection for the sector, recent official figures revealed that UK libraries had lost £25 million in their budgets in just one year. With 2017 not being an election year, it is likely that further cuts may be pushed through.

With news breaking that Parliament is considering the possibility of allowing councils in England and Wales the power to increase council taxes to fund the social care system, Nick Poole, chief executive of the Cilip, said that a similar offer should be considered for libraries.

Poole said: “We have already lost 340 libraries over the past eight years and we think that unless immediate action is taken, we stand to lose the same number over the next five years.

“We would like to see Theresa May consider libraries as a special case as well as the care sector. These problems are all the result of a programme of austerity that was rushed through. Asking people to make these sorts of savings in a year is unrealistic.”

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