Austerity-struck council leaders are being forced to close, or at best consolidate, library services to save moneyThe new £188m Birmingham Library will open with a fanfare to the public next Tuesday, with 400,000 new books – nearly twice the previous library’s capacity – and an eye-catching design by Dutch architects Mecanoo.At the same time, in other parts of the country, austerity-struck council leaders slash funding for professional librarians and close local library branches or hand them over to be run by groups of volunteers. Campaigners predict that there will be 400 library closures in the next three years.Herefordshire, Lincolnshire and Sunderland are the latest authorities to clash with local campaigners over proposed cuts; they join Bolton, Doncaster, Gloucestershire, the Isle of Wight, Newcastle and Surrey.In Herefordshire, where the council proposed closing all but the central library, campaigners and local MPs are in negotiations with the county council, pressing it to consider merging their library authority with two neighbouring authorities to reduce costs, said John Hitchin, director of neighbourhood regeneration specialists Renaisi.”We have local city and market town councillors mostly on our side. We are pressing for a combined library authority for Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire to create real economies of …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books