HELEN BURTON: Don’t write off our libraries yet

Helen Burton
Helen Burton

Those of us who have computers at home and phones with access to the internet can get online 24/7 and have a world of information available to us.

The proposed cuts in adult social care by ESCC are worrying enough, but only equate to forty million pounds of savings. Once these cuts are made another fifty million pounds will need to be saved over the next three years. My worry is that libraries will be at the front line for the next round of cuts, and sadly there is a lot of evidence to support this. Libraries are under threat all over the country. In Pevensey Bay we have been without a library for nearly a year due to the building flooding. We are told negotiations with the landlord are ongoing in order to resolve the issue, but it’s been a year and our community is suffering as a result of the library being closed. Rural communities are particularly affected when libraries close, internet availability tends to be lower, transport is less frequent and the elderly and disabled are more likely to be socially isolated.

Libraries are more than a place to access free books, they are often the hub of a community. With poverty levels increasing nationally it is important that everyone has access to libraries, they are an important source of entertainment and information and they level the playing field between ‘the haves and the have nots’. You may be surprised to learn that libraries are the most visited places in the country, coming before football matches, A&E, the church, or the cinema! 32,191 people visit a library every hour in the UK, in fact people visit libraries almost twice as often as they visit the cinema.

If you think libraries have become irrelevant then think again. Our libraries are a place to access books of course but also provide access to computers, local information and are often a meeting place for groups. A good library can inspire children for life, and as a great quote from Neil Gaiman says ‘Google can bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one’. How true! In Pevensey Bay a new group has formed in order to get a library back in our Parish. If you want to join or show your support please email friendsofpevenseybaylibrary@gmail.com and also keep up to date with the campaign by liking our Facebook page. The next public meeting is on December 18th, 7pm at the Ocean View Bakery in Pevensey Bay.