Legendary US broadcaster Walter Cronkite once said that “whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation”. Sadly, Lincolnshire county council doesn’t share Cronkite’s philosophy.
Since May’s elections, a new coalition of Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and ‘independents’ announced plans to either close or dramatically cut huge swathes of our public library services across Lincolnshire.
Libraries give society huge benefits – giving people from all walks of life the chance to educate themselves.
They open doors to a world of culture that would otherwise be closed to many. They are a source of valuable information and give citizens access to knowledge to hold those in authority to account.
Some Lincolnshire public services such as DVLA and HMRC offices are being withdrawn under the pretext that people are accessing services online instead of face-to-face. Closure of their local library would cut access to free internet for many people.
Libraries are also one of the last venues with space for local community groups to meet together. Funding cuts caused many community centres to close in recent years.
The council say the current library service is “inefficient” and proposed closures would save the county council £2 million.
But such savings are dwarfed by the billions of bonuses paid out yearly by City of London banks and financial companies.
Public spending only leapt considerably in 2008 when several major banks had to be bailed out after their insatiable hunger for ever-increasing profits caused a crash.
Instead the government’s austerity programme wants to roll back the remaining social gains of working class people.
The NHS, comprehensive education, a public library service, all won through working class people’s tireless campaigning, are under threat.
We need to fight these cuts with a mass campaign rooted in the communities working alongside our redundancy-threatened library staff to defend the services they deliver as professionals, and oppose their replacement with volunteers.