As more and more local councils slash vital services, librarians’ association CILIP continues to speak up. As it should.

Last week it was quick to point out the truth behind the government’s hasty provision of “exceptional financial support” for 19 chosen councils. What that means is permission to make a fire sale of public assets – just to keep going day to day. 

“This framework creates a material risk,” CILIP said, “that councils will sell off parts of their property portfolio, including libraries, to address the funding shortfall caused by the withdrawal of central government grants.” Irresponsible or what?

“We know from our experience supporting library services across the UK, this is a one-way trip – once a library building is sold off, it permanently impairs the life chances and property values of local residents. It’s a one-way deal and very much like using the credit card to pay the mortgage.” 

Now it is calling directly on the libraries minister, Lord Parkinson (picture), to intervene. He has legal power to do so, as we all know. The latest Budget actually makes things worse for local councils – including libraries.

Once again, CILIP unpicks the fancy government phrases. Its “public sector productivity plan”  just means yet more pressure to conjure up “savings” – ie, cut services even more. This is not “a budget for long-term growth”. Such a budget would, instead, be about “real reinvestment into local services, including libraries”.

What the budget offers, says CILIP, is pure short-termism and “a material threat to the nation’s life-changing libraries…

“We stand ready to work with the minister to protect and build on the UK’s world-class library network, but we can only do so if those libraries still exist.” 

We can all support CILIP’s call on social media with a #DearChancellor tag.

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