Public Libraries

Another sector to have suffered a lot due to the recent financial crisis, public libraries have cut many of their professional staff, in some cases now being staffed entirely by volunteers. According to this article in the Guardian, branch closures in 2012 saw the UK loose more than 200 libraries. This is deeply sad and regrettable, as is the reduction in professional staff, as the role of public libraries is traditionally far broader than just the loan of books. Under the Public Libraries & Museums Act 1964, public libraries are a statutory service. It requires local authorities to provide a “comprehensive and efficient” public library service. Many in the sector are of the view that this is not currently being upheld by the local authorities responsible for the provision of these services.

CILIP’s Public Libraries Group is one network of public librarians, although they deal with public libraries on a devolved basis so you will also need to explore the websites for various nations. However, many current and ex-public librarians are also members of various groups which you can find out more about on The Library Campaign website. There is also campaign work done by UNISON, the public sector union. Lots of activity takes place on social media, so joining Facebook and Twitter is a good way to get involved and become familiar with the issues.