Sunday, April 12, 2015

Photo Tim Pierce, Creative Commons Licence

Libraries - a Common Good

Bristol, like many towns and cities across the UK, has recently faced the prospect of major cuts to its library services as a result of the central government's programme of austerity. This has included the proposal to close seven community libraries, principally on the basis of the locations and conditions of the buildings which house them.

Marksbury Road Library faced closure a few years ago and is once again on the list of those libraries under threat. While there has been a stay of execution for a further year for the library, it continues to be vulnerable. The 1930s building is old-fashioned and freestanding, without the benefit of being among other services such as shops. One reason cited for its place on the list of proposed library closures is the absence of a toilet.

The Green Party supports public libraries. Up and down the country Greens have been involved in campaigning to keep libraries open. We believe in local public services, in access for everyone to information and imagination through books and the internet. We cannot hope to improve literacy and education without them. Libraries are a vital part of democracy and lifelong learning. Marksbury Road Library in its distinctive building, with its own garden, is a focal point in a place where there is little other community space. The lack of a toilet is not an adequate excuse to close it down.

Bristol Green councillors are working closely with the Mayor to find resources to keep the libraries open. It is a difficult task, because the funding will have to be taken from another area of council activity. What we really need is a government which invests in people via public services and which sees the provision of local libraries as excellent value, engaging people of all ages individually and in groups in learning, as a common good.

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