The Importance of Libraries


It's been all over the news: libraries across the UK have rapidly been closing down. So rapidly, in fact, that two libraries a week close - meaning that hundreds of people lose their jobs.

How often do you visit your local library? Once or twice a week? Once a month? Never? When I asked that question on Twitter, these were the results:

In 2012, more than 200 libraries were reported to have closed down due to the fact that there was a huge decrease in library visitors -  visits dropped by 2.4% to 306.6 million; compared with 328.5 million in 2007. But in 2011, only 157 libraries were closed down. Both of these years showed a drastic drop in adults and children borrowing fiction and non-fiction novels, and the numbers keep dropping - even to this day. However, on a brighter note, since January 2016 seventy-seven new public libraries have opened which have given the opportunity for more jobs.

Even though it may sound great that seventy-seven new libraries have opened so far this year, it has been estimated that 8,000 librarians will lose their jobs in the next six years.

With the libraries that are currently open in the UK, the majority of the people who work there are volunteers, the amount of paid staff have fallen since 2010. And with the decreasing rate of paid workers, libraries are becoming harder to run - thus meaning that they shut down as a consequence.

Last year, one of my local libraries closed down - and it was a fairly large library too. I now have two libraries that are fairly close to me - but one is due to close down soon. There was a massive protest and petition to save both of my local libraries from closing but, alas, nothing could be done. I also recently found out that the library I visit more frequently is due to be sold to an external company - meaning that the library could be closed down, if that company see fit.

Last year, I took part in the Summer Reading Challenge at my local library (it's a scheme that runs yearly that helps young children engage in reading) and there was long periods of time when there was nothing but the books, the staff, and myself in the library. It made me depressed to see that hardly anyone was taking the time to visit one of the most valuable places on the planet. Libraries are a vital part of our life: they contain one of the most significant inventions on this planet; books. I used to get excited when I went on trips to the library, or the Library Bus came to my school so I could choose a new book to read. When I go to my local library for my book club, I get excited because I'm surrounded by the musty smell of old books and the constant shushing of the librarians to the screaming children who come to the library after school.

There's a quote that always sticks with me when it comes to talking about libraries:

"You want weapons? We're in a library! Books! The best weapons in the world!" ~ The Doctor, Doctor Who.

What more could possibly be said?

 What's your view on libraries closing down?

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