Cuts Watch #308: Libraries in the capital face axe in spending cuts
The Evening Standard reported yesterday that a third of London’s public libraries are at risk of closure as a result of spending cuts. As many as 130 out of 383 could be axed with hundreds of staff losing their jobs.
Critics have condemned the cuts to a service which is the main source of books for children and the elderly. Sir Andrew Motion, the former poet laureate and a novelist and biographer, told the Standard:
Libraries are an emblem of the values of civilisation and learning. They provide avenues of learning, and of course today the breadth of things offered in libraries goes far beyond just books.
Official figures show there are 52 million visits to London libraries every year – seven per person – and 95 per cent of people live within a mile of one. Londoners borrow about 40 million books a year.
Councils including Lewisham, Wandsworth, and Hammersmith and Fulham have already said some will have to close. Others are reviewing their services as they decide how to make the 27 per cent savings imposed by central Government spending cuts.