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Public Libraries in times of recession

I was involved in an interesting debate the other night regarding the future of Public Libraries.  Traditionally public libraries have thrived during times of economic downturn.  Just look at the important role libraries played when the Welsh Miners lost their jobs.  The library was a central figure for people out of work.  Similarly, when Marconi shut down, some Essex Libraries were a godsend to the newly unemployed.

Public libraries have seen user numbers dwindling in recent years.  There could be many reason for this, but one being that when books are so cheap and easily accessible in supermarkets etc, why use the library? If people don’t think twice about buying items, why access free resources at your local library?

If we are heading for "Dark Financial Times" then surely Public Libraries are a place to turn to.  They offer so much to so many people and if they can’t come into their own at these times, then should we just all give up?  To quote the Manic Street Preachers "Libraries Give us Power", and not just in times of economic downturn, but always.  Thing is, we have to use it or lose it, as they say.

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