I recently read a great article on the Guardian ‘For many library visitors, I’m the only person they’ve talked to all day’.
It’s part of a series which aims to give a voice to the staff behind our public services and talk about the impact austerity is having on them. A great platform for those in the public sector to talk about what they do, the benefits of their services but also the huge pressure they are under and the threats that they face. Essentially why they should be CHERISHed.
This particular piece was about our libraries. Years ago when we would talk about our library service they were places of nostalgia – a quiet sanctuary to read, order and take out books. Nowadays they are so much more. They are an intrinsic part of the community. They have job clubs, give people access to IT and the internet, are a place for young people to meet up, offer training and support and enable people to be part of a community. The writer of this piece talks about the creative ways they are now delivering the service as cuts continue. But as austerity washes over the public sector the future of our libraries isn’t secure – and sadly it’s the same picture across the scope of the public services.
What I think is important about this article is that it shows us how austerity is effecting real people, and services which many of us may take for granted. It also highlights the range of services and the value that many people get from our libraries – and unless you’re a regular user of a library you may not realise how much they offer to so many different people.
But austerity is happening and as I’ve mentioned previously there is set to be a new public sector. The Government has given us some terrifying figures to contend with and digest – a £70 billion deficit, budget cuts for some ‘non-ring-fenced’ departments of between 15% and 37% and an overall day-to-day departmental spending cut of £20 billion. These figures are huge but when you really drill down, the impact is even bigger.
I’d recommend reading the article if you have a few minutes spare – it’s an interesting insight. It would also be great to hear your views on this.