Friday, 4 April 2014

Threat to Powys Libraries

We watched over the border in Herefordshire as the County Council decided it wanted to close every library in the county except Hereford - and the passionate public opposition there has been there. And now Powys County Council wants to close eleven of the county's seventeen libraries to save money.
They announce this when they're already committed to a big new library in Brecon as part of the Museum complex (and that wasn't in the original plans), and they're spending £170,000 on Llandrindod Wells library this year according to the piece on the front page of the B&R. So that leaves the smaller libraries, in the more rural areas.
We already know in Hay that the library is supposed to be incorporated in the new school building - but they haven't started laying the foundations for that yet, and I won't believe it's actually happening until they start building.

And libraries are not just about little old ladies stocking up on detective novels (which is what my mother-in-law used to use her library for). It's a vital point of access to the internet for people who don't own computers - they do exist, and when Job Centres insist that job applications have to be made online, a library computer can be the only way of looking for a job that some people have. Then there are the school children who increasingly need to access the internet for school projects. They are also vital repositories for information on local history. A little while ago a lady asked for my advice about a pamphlet she owned, which had been written by (I think) her grandfather, and was about local life about a hundred years ago. At one time I would have automatically said she should donate it to Brecon library - but now I don't know if material like that will be safe in the library system.
And it can't all be done by volunteers either. I'm beginning to feel bad about even using the word "volunteer" now, because it's become a sort of code for getting people to do a job without paying them the proper wages for the job. There's a reason that librarians have professional qualifications.

No comments: