Council Closes Libraries to Cut Costs, Spends So Much More Just Guarding Them

By Aatif Sulleyman on at

Libraries, those buildings that are so great for napping, perving on intellectual members of the opposite sex and reading Harry Potter in, are closing at an astonishing rate in the UK thanks to budget cuts and subsequent staffing issues. However, new figures show that, in a couple of cases at least, it’s been costing more to shut the doors than to keep them open.

A Guardian report says that that Carnegie and Minet libraries (both in London) soaked up a lot more cash after they were temporarily closed at the end of March than they would have done if they’d been allowed to operate as usual.

A Freedom of Information request covering the time between March 31st and April 15th shows that Lambeth council spent £2,212 a day (£35,392.68) on intimidating-looking guards for the libraries, as bespectacled, banner-holding members of the public protested and staged an exciting-but-completely-unenjoyable-of-course occupation. According to the council’s budget, running costs -- excluding books and computer services, which reportedly would have come out of another budget -- would have amounted to £874 a day.

Even after protests ended, however, security costs of £1,382 per day for Carnegie library are reported to have been three times higher than standard running costs. With Minet library, security costs were twice as high.

Both libraries will be re-opened next year as private gym/unstaffed library confusing hybrid things. Maybe the gym bit will be deadly silent and the books bit pumping with 'Call On Me'-style hype tunes. [Guardian]

Image: Juliac2006 via Flickr