England & Wales

World This Weekend: libraries


I discussed reform of libraries on The World This Weekend with author Michael Morpurgo. The item starts at 17 minutes 50 seconds on i-Player.

“We have a £163bn deficit. Of the £6.6bn worth of cuts that George Osborne has asked for £1.2bn are coming out of local government. That’s one pound in every five.

“So I’m not sure that a campaign to protect every library, every building, is right. Many are empty, dusty and unpopular. To me there’s potential to reform that institution.

“My concern is we’ll get hung up on defending a building rather than an aim. The aim is kids reading books. Buildings are expensive and I think we could think in a different way.

“Libraries look a lot like they always have done. When you compare that with other public services the comparison is quite stark.

“We need to think about what we’re actually trying to do and what the most cost effective way to do that is. That might mean a school opening its doors, for instance.”