Former poet laureate and chair of the MLA Sir Andrew Motion has described any move to cut library spending as "foolhardy". Concerns have grown over the future of library funding in the run up to the budget announcement on 22nd June, which is likely to include swingeing cuts across sectors in a bid to reduce some of the country's deficit.
While Motion acknowledged there was no "harm in society periodically asking itself which services should be publicly funded, and how they should be run", and that the sector was already planning to deliver "quality library services with less money", he stressed its overriding value.
There was a report on the Today Programme on 8 June about KPMG Consultancy's blueprint of how the public sector could be reformed. A spokesman for KPMG said that whilst libraries are hugely important in the national psyche - we all think libraries are important - there is a problem with libraries, they are not very much used and they are very expensive to run...we are not suggesting in this report that libraries should be closed down what we are saying is that libraries and other community facilities might be better off if they were run by the communities that value them rather than by the state.
Tim Coates on Newsnight (9 June) supporting libraries seemed to hint that there was too much management in the service...at least I think that was what he said.
I guess the KPMG report was meant to be controversial. Tim Coates did address their not much used line with this statistic "260 million books sold in bookshop and on line whereas 320 million are borrowed from public libraries". The main groups who used libraries were, surprise, surprise small children, young people with families and school children.