I haven’t actually used a library for the last couple of years, mainly because I’m an obsessive book buyer, but I have enough fond memories of hushed, booklined hours to keep me going for the rest of my life. Therefore, I was sad to see this news story in the Metro today. It says that some, underused, EU libraries cost taxpayers up to £570 per book loan.
The article then points out that the number of books available for public lending in Britain has dropped by 20 per cent in the past ten years and intimates that this is directly connected with the small numbers of people attending some of the 52 EU libraries servicing Eurocrats.
These libraries cost £16 million in taxes per year. Meanwhile, 2007 saw the closure of forty public libraries in England, an awfully large number considering that 328.5 million visitors enjoyed the use of a UK library last year.
As opposed as I am to sounding in any way nationalistic (despite a quiet streak of patriotism), and as much as I like to think of the UK as part of Europe, I’d hate it if the correlations the Metro is drawing prove to be true.
In a perfect world, I’d like to see the number of libraries facing closure at zero but I suppose that the most important factor in preserving a library should be the number of people that utilise it – no matter where it is.