please empty your brain below

My (non-London) county council long ago categorised libraries into 3 groups, by size/usage. The smallest ones were to be closed, unless they could be run by teams of community volunteers. Most survive (some thrive) thanks to a grey army of mainly elderly volunteers. I helped out for a while but it was beyond boring, and users were not in the slightest bit appreciative of the voluntary efforts.
Library provision in the 3 London boroughs I have lived in has always been poor. Unlike other major cities there is also no large central library. There was a suggestion London’s libraries should be organised and run on a London wide basis to provide a cheaper and better service
The Camden New Journal and its two sister papers covering Westminster and Islington would be notable exceptions to the local news scene as described in the opening paragraph.
It may not be run by local authorities, but the British Library is a large and central public library in London.

How widespread is BorrowBox (ebooks and audio books)? Our library service is giving free access, and we’ve found it a godsend in the last few months.
We are just introducing BorrowBox to our library service. These sorts of things have escalated in use during lock down.
My borough's council freesheet (finally a quarterly, as per Pickles' decree) came though the door yesterday, singing the praises of their new library. It's the ground floor of a new block of flats, and presumably some of the funding is coming from selling the land from the old one for more flats.
The problem with averages is that they are dynamic. So if the council with the 3rd highest provision cuts services, then the average also moves down....

This seems to have passed by a certain current minister, who pretty much uttered the statement of wanting everyone to be above average (but without using that exact phrase).
They should give ratepayers a choice, pay a surcharge to access the libraries for free, or don't pay extra and pay per visit/per book instead.

If they don't get enough cash then shut them down.

"This'll encourage some to propose fruitloop savings based on personal prejudice"
My grade 2 listed library is still shut and the council want to turn it into flats with a community hub to appease us.

Meanwhile the government is wasting billions of pounds killing the economy and keeping healthy people locked up because of over 90% false positive rates while our hospitals remain empty.
Vote Tory. Lose services: pay less tax; receive poor services; rich win hands down.
I come from a working class background and many years ago my father, who was determined that my sister and me would have a better life than him and our mother, spent many hours teaching us to read and write at a very early age.

I can remember he took me to our local library in Dalston when I was about 7 years old. He indicated towards all the shelves filled with books and said “On those shelves is all the knowledge in the world and it’s waiting for you to find it”. He didn’t live long enough to see both me and my sister go on to Grammar Schools and then to make decent careers but I know he would be spinning in his grave to see the library closures. It’s just another form of vandalism.
Tony -- stop peddling the myth that "our hospitals remain empty".
Toronto's Public Library system is run across the whole city and is very popular among the community - I wonder if a London wide library system would help things...

"higher circulation per capita than any other public library system internationally, making it the largest neighbourhood-based library system in the world"
'A consultation inviting people who WORK or STUDY in the borough'
Bad news for retirees, the unemployed and pre-school children then.

dg writes: ...or else I made an ERROR.
All but four of our libraries are still shut because of COVID. The facilities available at those which are open is very limited and I see if you don't have a suitable phone with the T&T app installed you are not allowed entry, no alternative. So I guess in our case they have worked out how to save money.
In my experience the library provision in Hong Kong is much better than in London - and that's only considering books in English. As in Toronto it's a city-wide library service. Given how small the costs are as a proportion of total government spending, I think it makes sense politically to provide good universal public services like libraries, swimming pools etc.
When I was growing up in a relatively deprived area some of my classmates didn't have any books at home and the school/public library was their only option to have books. The library there is being down-sized, to a unit under a block of flats, but will thankfully still exist.

Cuts do have a horrible way of reducing usage that then spawns more cuts. I used to pop in to my local archive regularly for ad-hoc research but haven't been back since it moved to appointment only access many years ago. I dread to think what might be on the cards now.

It's a depressing reality to face up to. I've seen first hand that reductions in staff often take away the expert knowledge of a collection that are invaluable - either directly or through the loss of junior staff who form a vital part of the succession plans.
The Conservatives stand accused of many failings but one of their deadlier crimes is their complete lack of interest in libraries, The People's University. The amount of money they have wasted or squirrelled off to their associates could easily provide this country with 'a comprehensive and efficient library service'. The problem is that if you keep the peasants down they are easier to rule and be told what to do!
As Reagan cut taxes as Governor of California until residents complained their roads were collapsing it will all come back to bite the government on the bum.
The Barbarians are winning - or perhaps they've already won.
We had a similar consultation in 2016 which resulted in 4/10 of our libraries closing permanently.
Now with Covid only 3 of the remaining 6 have reopened and I fear the other 3 may never do so now - including my nearest which is a 10 min walk away.
The rest all involve a bus journey - the next closest open library being a 20 min ride away!

Heartbreaking. They run the services to the ground, a change of government tries to put it right and are then accused of over-spending! Well I'd rather the over-spending went on public services than into the pockets of rich mates.
Some have mentioned BorrowBox which, together with PressReader, is free from my County library service. Whilst they remain free, I never will need to purchase an audio book or a print edition of a newspaper nor magazine. However, I remain a huge supporter of libraries as they perform many essential community functions, not least as a (normally) peaceful place to read and/or study.
By my reckoning, 95% of what's in my library is not easily had online. That's how valuable it is as a public resource, and why I use it.

Lambeth has been making a fair go at a bad situation, thanks to the beyond-the-call-of-duty-minded staff, volunteer Friends groups and a general readiness of vociferous people to ready to mobilise to defend them.

On a personal level, I'm most excited, as the new borough archive and study centre is being built less than a minute away from my front door, but at the high cost of opaque property deals, and poor deals on some previous library closures.
There was a very interesting programme on BBC4 last night at 9pm, "The Secret History of Writing". It was effectively looking at the sharing of knowledge via the written word...specifically what the word was written on. All the great civilisations used accessible writing media: papyrus (Roman Empire), paper (China), books (Iran).

What UK Government's/local authorities have done to public libraries since 1988 is shameful. Section 7 of the Libraries and Museums Act 1964 has not been repealed as far as I am aware. Consulting on reducing services is a non sequitur.
I fear Hackney's excellent libraries and even better Archives will be at risk if scarce money is diverted to support statutory services of a higher (perceived and actual) priority.

Hackney Archives' selection of street directories is fantastic, for family research and other historical interest, with the incomparable Bishopsgate Institute's gigantic directory collection to fill in the gaps.

Hackney has lost some libraries over the years. The thought of losing more is almost as worrying as the impact of Covid - 'all the knowledge in the world' would no longer be available - where would it reside?

We live in an era of knowing less and knowing where to find info' (on the net) more, especially those brought up in the internet era. If libraries fall into the latter, the national knowledge base will deplete forever.
A significant number of the London local papers are published by Archant, which went through a prepackaged administration process a few weeks ago, offloading the pension and wiping out creditors and shareholders.

The printing (Norwich based) was outsourced last year to (Murdoch) Newsprinters (Broxbourne), which is the bigger end of an effective duopoly of newspaper printing in the UK (I think next biggest is Reach formerly Trinity, remainders very much tiddlers with smaller older presses)
I've always found Westminster / City of London libraries excellent. If your borough's are poor and you can get to zone 1 try these.
Unfortunately I've got a large of books from Westminster Library that are hard to return since my at office at Victoria shut six months ago.
I live Hampshire where we've been having these cuts for ages. We had a similar questionnaire. What I couldn't understand was why reducing staffing levels wasn't on the list. Hampshire introduced self-checkout but kept the same numbers of librarians who seem to spend most of my visits chatting in 3s or 4s. I know this is harsh but seems better for the public than reducing opening hours / closing libraries.
Some central London libraries may have more of a people issue than Hants. Victoria's librarians seem to spend much of their time waking people who came to the library for a place out of the cold and a sleep.
What's more important free access to free educational material / mental health-boosting books or hard-to-manage / mismanaged council budgets?
Whilst cuts from on high are blatantly shortsighted, they are here and now.

Nowhere have I found any whispers of real alternatives to "shut them, shut them down": just media spin trying to cover themselves. There's a conspiracy of silence going on across local government methinks.
Dare I suggest that the councils rethink their employment patterns, realise what's important to their 'customers' ie us and keep libraries, litter bins and regular rubbish removal and move / remove some of the less hard-working, less essential, generously pensioned employees?
I'm getting a strong 'local newspaper letters page' vibe from some of today's comments.
Be afraid. When they announce a consultation the decision's already been made. Also, don't forget the council getout: the elected members have to follow the advice of their professional staff, while the professional staff have to carry out the wishes of their elected members. Then, when the job goes tits up we're all in the clear and get promoted.
In rural areas we always had to travel to the local market town for a library, but what has happened in the last few years is that in some villages, unused phone boxes have become free book exchanges. My local village has an excellent selection of fiction, both classic and modern, some biography and travel, a few cookbooks, and a good shelf of children's books. I have seen something similar at some Tube stations in London, such as Willesden Green. I know that this service cannot replace a proper library, but for us, out in the sticks, it is better than what we had before.
As we're already paying for these services. it begs the question, where is all of that money going?
All of these cuts, yet my taxes keep on rising!
Alas, no comments from anyone in               .
JP, could you be more specific as to who are the less hard-working, less essential, generously pensioned council employees? You do not mention, for example, those involved in social care. Are they less hard-working and less essential?
For the dedicated amateur researcher, there is always the option of joining the subscription based London Library.

Which has, in practice, an interesting resolution to the cost of shelving/storing the books. Since most books are loaned indefinitely subject to a timely response to a recall request (which can be by post) a significant proportion of the books are distributed round the country. The book can be out of the stacks in a members house or office for literally decades, but findable in the catalogue.

And online JSTOR access to lots of journals (can be used at home).

The annual fee puts LL out of reach to a few, but for others, just need to decide your spending priorities.
Just as an example: an external audit visit by a friend to a county council last year. A lifelong Labour voter he was appalled by the twelve people in the accounts dept whereas the firm he works for 'got by' with three to do the same load. Anecdotally, roughly, I admit.
As a local resident and payer of 'rates', he was unable to justify the difference in productivity and thinking between public and private sector. Wages lower yes, pension still like they used to be and an absolute moratorium on cutting employee numbers at the cost of services it seemed.
But then who's the fool; him in the private sector dog-eat-dog world, or the council employees with the world that they still exist in?
The library consultation hasn't yet made it as far as               's local newspaper.

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