Libraries shouldn’t be given an automatic ‘get out of austerity free’ card just because they are libraries, a charity has argued.
The Tinder Foundation said that protecting libraries from closure at all costs could actually be holding the sector back.
Chief executive of the Tinder Foundation, Helen Milner, said: ‘I agree with the view that we must protect essential services, knowledge and education for those most disadvantaged in our communities. I agree there is a wider, long term impact if we don’t. I don’t agree that libraries should receive an automatic ‘get out of austerity free’ card, merely on the grounds of being libraries.’
The charity is calling for libraries to become ‘community hubs’ so they offer local communities more than just a book-lending service. This includes working with other local groups such as Jobcentres and GPs to offer services such as digital skills, jobs clubs, community workshops and school programmes.
Ms Milner added: ‘I love libraries. But I love them when they’re fulfilling their potential. When they are not, I believe they are bringing the institution down. I believe they are letting local people down. And I’m fed up of seeing them get a free pass, when other community hubs - community centres - are also at the brink of closures, and also faced with the really pointy end of the local council cuts.’