Guardian: UK library budgets fall by £25m in a year

A brutal year for the UK’s public libraries has been topped off with the revelation that the sector took a £25m hit to its budgets in the year to March, as calculated in official figures released on Wednesday. The number of public libraries still open reached a 10-year low, while visitor numbers slid by 15 million. Book budgets were also severely hit, taking an 8.4% fall over the period. Critics claimed the cuts endanger the long-term survival of the sector.

Labour shadow culture secretary Kevin Brennan added to the criticism and described the fall in library spending as “staggering” and a direct result of the government’s policy of starving local councils of the resources they need: “In its own Libraries Taskforce report, a five to one benefit to cost ratio is quoted as the return on investment in libraries. This government’s approach is endangering the availability of good local libraries right across the country.”

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