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Libraries face a 'bleak future'

Libraries face a "bleak future" because of cuts and underfunding, campaigners will warn the Government.

A new alliance, Speak up for Libraries, will tell ministers that support for libraries is long overdue and that has plunged the service into a "crisis".

More than 100 libraries have either closed or are being run by volunteers in the past year, while those left open were being "pared to the bone" because of cuts, according to a study by Unison.

Campaigners will join a rally in London ahead of a hearing by the Culture, Media and Sport select committee on library closures.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said: "Communities need libraries now more than ever before, but in their hour of need, drastic cuts to council budgets mean libraries are under serious threat.

"By speaking up for libraries, our alliance is sending the Government a strong message that we will not take this threat to vital local services and to future generations lying down. The Government will not get away with consigning libraries to the history books."

Ruth Bond, chairman of the National Federation of Women's Institutes, said: "As champions of libraries for the last 96 years, WI members are dismayed to see the Government stand by while our library service crumbles.

"With libraries and library staff under threat from a fatal combination of closures and service cutbacks, our leaders seem to be watching in silence while the library service is gradually eroded. Action to safeguard the future of the library service is long overdue."

John Dolan of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, said: "By combating illiteracy and providing escape, inspiration and knowledge, libraries and librarians change lives for the better.

"We are deeply concerned that libraries are being damaged by cuts to staff, opening hours and book budgets. Whilst the impact is being felt now, its effect will be long term."


From Belfast Telegraph