Knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing...

Oxfordshire County Council says that it needs to save £155million over the four years 2011-2015.  The proposal to close 20 libraries will save £2million over those four years -- this will meet less than 2% of the county's target, but it will permanently deprive tens of thousands of Oxfordshire's residents from library access: not just for four years, but for generations.

Details here.


  1. Local parent and university academic9 December 2010 at 15:59

    What price local libraries?

    My daughter was recently set a philosophical puzzle at school: ‘is a library still a library if all the books in it have been borrowed?’. I don’t know the answer, but I do know the value of local libraries. The benefits of freely-accessible books are self-evident – surely nobody needs to rehearse them. But a library is so much more than the sum of its books.

    The library is where we go to be human. It is as crucial to our health and well-being as any doctor’s surgery. It is a professional institution, and cannot be run by volunteers. If we want to reduce social isolation, exclusion, bad parenting, obesity, depression and anxiety; if we want to raise standards in schools and colleges; if people are to get back to work; if we want the economy to grow; if we are to be engaged and well-informed citizens, we need to keep our libraries local, and keep them open. If we believe in ‘society’ in any meaningful sense of the word, we must protect our libraries and protect ourselves from irreversible, short-sighted, cash-raising stunts. If we want to save money in public health, in education, in tackling anti-social behaviour and crime, we need to keep our libraries open. We are deep in a recession; the public purse is shrinking. We cannot afford to close our libraries now.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree. Closing libraries may seem like an easy option as clearly life would go on without them, but I would argue it would be a less interesting and rich life. I have always used libraries, but never more so since having children. We own a number of books that they love, but for variety the library is perfect. And after they start to tire of a story we can nip out to pick up a new exciting collection. My children are only young, but I am quite sure that this is enriching their lives and will make them keen readers in future years. And as anyone with young children knows, getting into town just to pick up some books is a mission that would only rarely happen!

  3. local parent and academic10 December 2010 at 06:16

    Thank you! You are right - although in my opinion life as they know it would not, in fact, go on for the elderly and the isolated for whom the library is a lifeline. There are also those whose only access to computers and to newspapers (for job applications, for courses, to feel connected to the world) - such as many homeless people, many people on benefits, many recent immigrants, is through their local library. At the same time, many an exhausted parent, at home with pre-school children, decides to walk them to the library, and suddenly their day is made. The social cost to everyone of losing local libraries is immeasurable. If they were once to go, they would never come back. But we cannot stand by and let this happen. It would be in the interest of no one, least of all the government. Anybody reading this, please come on board!

  4. As new libraries are opening and improving the lives of many in deprived areas of Africa (see for an emotional story of a library in Kenya), a major library in Oxford is closing. How sad...