UK Libraries Are Closing at an Astonishing Rate

By Aatif Sulleyman on at

Whisper it, but libraries may soon become rare, special buildings people travel miles and miles to visit during the holidays. Hundreds of libraries across the UK have closed over the past six years, with 7,933 jobs -- a quarter of the overall total -- disappearing in the process.

A BBC investigation has revealed that a grand total of 343 have been shuttered during this period, and another 111 are set to follow suit this year. At the same time, a whopping 15,500 volunteers have been recruited, and it seems fair to say that the non-paid model isn’t working well.

"It is exploiting people's goodness and willingness to work and so on," said Philip Pullman, the author of His Dark Materials. "I am in favour of volunteering but relying on volunteers to provide a service that ought to be statutory is not a good policy. What next? Are we going to rely on volunteer teachers because we can't find new teachers because all the staffing levels in schools are going down?"

It’s a sad state of affairs, and the situation appears to be at its worst in England. More than half of the libraries in Sefton, Brent, Stoke-on-Trent and Sunderland, have closed since 2010. The government, meanwhile, reckons the rollout of Wi-Fi across libraries counts as a job done well. [BBC]