The Future of Libraries…Is There One?

 

I’ve been considering how lucky I am lately, it never hurts in a new year to count your blessings. Firstly, I’m lucky to be working with young people. Not a lot of people would agree with me when I say that working with teenagers is great, but I love it. I’m doubly lucky because I am doing the job I dreamed about when I was a child.

When I was playing with my books and date stamp as a little girl, I always imagined myself in the public library and not in a school library. The fact that I am a school librarian is another lucky point I feel.

I blogged earlier about how much I loved Grangetown Library as a child; the building seemed immense and stuffed full of lovely books. When I visited the same library recently however, the lack of books was marked. Both adults’ and children’s books are now confined in the space which was once exclusively for adults. The former children’s section is now given over to computers and shelves containing information about bus passes and recycling amongst other things.

This minimising of the importance of books in a library is something which genuinely saddens and worries me. Pretty much all of the libraries in my town are now ‘Hubs’ http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/libraries-become-thing-past-under-10381036 with space given over to anything and everything, besides books it seems. Public librarians are now expected to advise people on council tax, distribute recycling bags and a myriad other tasks. Some libraries no longer have any librarians, being staffed entirely by volunteers.

Several of my pupils lately have been borrowing young adult books on behalf of their parents and even coming with parental requests for us to purchase adult books which, unfortunately we cannot fulfil. This is undoubtedly due to the lack of books in these ‘community hubs.’ Not everyone can afford the time or money to take the bus into the town centre and visit the one remaining dedicated library.

For our pupils (and, it would seem their parents) the school library is now the only place where they feel they have a choice of reading material. We are lucky at my school in that the academy trust is prepared to invest heavily in books. Other pupils in other schools do not have that luxury.

So will libraries soon become a thing of the past? I sincerely hope not but it would appear that career-wise I may be in the best possible place.

 

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