Libraries have traditionally been quiet safe havens, places of learning, somewhere to read the day’s newspapers or recent magazines – or just, as they were for most, somewhere to pick up a selection of books to read at your leisure.
Of course society has changed and, as with so many other aspects of life, the rise of the internet has altered our need for them.
But there is still a place for the library in our modern world. It’s been a long time since libraries were fusty, musty places where you’d be ‘sssshed!’ the moment you opened your mouth.
These days they often operate as community hubs – numerous groups meet in them from baby singing and story time to providing support for pensioners. They provide free internet access to those who don’t have it at home and they are, in general, welcoming places.
Sadly it’s not just the bricks and mortar libraries that are under threat, as the latest round of cuts will see the end of the mobile library service.
The mobile library is a lifeline to those who use it. It provides a link to the outside world for those who might otherwise struggle to access the services in a regular library.
Improving online services is all well and good, but those who rely on the mobile library are often those less likely to use the internet.
However, librarian is just one more role that has become devalued – the latest casualty of austerity.
As the county council looks to save £1.7m from its libraries budget, harsh cuts are being made. As a result keeping smaller libraries open could soon depend on volunteers.
Once more ‘we’re all in this together,’ if ‘together’ means people giving up their time to do work that was once done by someone paid for their time and effort.