Loss of 18% of libraries fine, says Vaizey

Public Libraries News : 3rd September
Loss of libraries to 18% of users is fine: Ed Vaizey on Bolton, Isle of Wight & Lewisham
Alan Gibbons comments:
“Politicians of whatever stripe have an uncanny knack of producing statements that have members of the general public grinding the last patina of enamel from their teeth. They talk of ‘rolling out’ policies and other such meaningless tosh. When it comes to libraries the vocabulary of neglect and philistinism is at its most nerve-shredding. The first time I came across the phrase ‘not minded to’ was when the then Culture Secretary Andy Burnham announced that he was not inclined to intervene to stop the closure of eleven Wirral libraries. With some pressure from library users and the general public Burnham changed the mind that originally had not been minded to change.
“Sadly, Mr Hunt and Mr Vaizey show no such responsiveness to the public move. Members of a government whose only conviction seems to be devotion to the hair shirt and the mantra that the public sector is bad and the private sector good if not angelic, they have indicated that the loss of about a fifth of branch libraries in three boroughs is perfectly acceptable. Not surprisingly, the public will disagree. Mr Vaizey is now the patron saint of the bland assurance, the Pontius Pilate of politics reaching for his towel while libraries close or are handed over to an uncertain future in the volunteer sector, book stocks dwindle, opening hours shrink and librarians’ jobs vanish. This public school Nero’s fiddle screeches while one of the richest countries in the world effectively declares that one of the main pillars of mass literacy is no longer needed. I stated recently in a radio interview that the next six years will determine whether we retain a public library service worth the name. There is nothing in these dismally disappointing letters to change my mind.”

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