Politicians have realised that they get more bang for their buck if they spend money on libraries rather than museum and gallery projectsLibrary campaigners, among whom I count myself, need not be too full of doom and gloom. While cuts and closures are affecting library services, it is also true that the past decade has seen a reinvention of the public library in the UK and across the world. Next week, the new Library of Birmingham opens at a cost of £186m, becoming the largest public library in Europe. It expects to attract 10,000 visitors a day. Glasgow’s magnificent Mitchell library, which previously held the record as the largest public reference library in Europe, was recently refurbished to tremendous effect. Since 2000, new library buildings have opened in Bournemouth, Brighton, Canada Water, Cardiff, Clapham, Dagenham, Glasgow, Liverpool, Newcastle, Norwich, Peckham, Whitechapel and elsewhere, all reporting record numbers of users.Why are libraries back on the urban agenda? Increasing numbers of people are now engaged in some form of further or higher education, and need study space and access to the internet, which many cannot find at home. The rise of single-person households in city centres – in some European capitals now …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books