Science fiction and fantasy                                            



Threat Of Massive Closures To Lincolnshire Libraries

29th July 2013





   

News and events

Symphony of War Declared
The second novel in the Kaddon Keys series is available in ebook.

WFC 2013
Impressions from the World Fantasy Convention held in Brighton in 2013.

The BFS Award Nominations, And A Hiatus
This is possibly the best kind of jury duty there is.

FantasyCon 2012
The annual convention of the BFS at Brighton was the first convention to feature a dance-off between Joe Abercrombie and Tom Pollock. It may not be the last.

The In-Between Musical
A new fantasy musical concept album launches, but will Laura Tisdall get to put it on the stage?

SFF Imprints Launching
Berkley UK will debut, and Elsewhen Press is to expand into print.

Novacon 41
The 41st Novacon convention, held in Nottingham, featured John Meaney as Guest of Honour.

Lincoln Book Festival 2011
YA authors in costume, steamy paranormal romance, and eye-popping visual appeal from the 2011 Lincoln Book Festival.

Eastercon 2011
Pictures from the 62nd Illustrious Eastercon at the Hilton Metropole in Birmingham.

Genre for Japan
The science fiction, fantasy and horror community is rallying in support of the people of Japan hit by the devastating earthquake and tsunami and its aftermath.

An Interview With John Beachem
John riffs on zombies, trilogies and his plans for The Lorradda Stone, and the Dumbledore and Gandalf deathmatch in this interview.

British Fantasy Awards 2010
Pictures and results from the award ceremony of the British Fantasy Society.

The Heady Heights of Book Reviewing
Take a peek into the Headline offices, where bloggers were let loose on defenceless authors for the Headline Meets Online do on the 24th March.


Neil Gaiman quote  

Malorie Blackman quote

Michael Morpugo quote

Georgia Twynham quote

Terry Pratchett quote

In a change to my usual discussions about elves, zombies, and sex-starved angels, I have news about a serious threat to the future of civilisation (or at least, literacy) that, for once, isn't brought about by alien attack, plague, or yet another season of Celebrity Big Brother.

Lincolnshire County Council plan to shut down two thirds of Lincolnshire libraries, and to slash mobile library services. If their plans go ahead, 170 librarians stand to lose their jobs, and many communities will lose their access to library books and services. Those are libraries in small towns all over the county.

This is particularly troublesome in Lincolnshire, a rural county where public transport links vary from intermittent to non-existent for most of the villages. In theory people should have access to a library within 30 minutes by public transport, but in practice the county is full of places that have only weekly buses.

Consultations?

There's some kind of legal requirement for the council to hold public consultations about these changes. I attended one of these meetings, which largely took place in towns where the libraries weren't threatened with closure. This is my account of the leading questions, poor format, and thinly-disguised attempt at a volunteer recruitment drive that LCC considers to be a consultation. Here's a report from the Lincoln meeting, which had similar issues.

Would you like those books pulped or cremated?

The Conservative-controlled council have already voted to save £2 million from the libraries' budget, so they are presenting this as an issue of how people want to ruin the library system, rather than whether they want to get rid of so many libraries at all. Because there's no way any authority can cut the budget this drastically and still be left with a meaningful library service for many of the county's residents.

Library book lending is on a declining trend, partly because people are moving to ereaders, and partly because the book stock in Lincolnshire's libraries has been considerably underfunded in recent years. However, the people who can't use ereaders are precisely those who need help the most: children, people who have problems using technology, and those without much disposable income.

But computer use is holding steady, as people realise they need internet access for more things, and those who don't have it at home flock to libraries. These are centres for information and community groups, so they're far more important than a set of bookshelves. Not that bookshelves aren't, you know, the foundation of our civilisation.

If you follow this blog, you're likely already sold on the value of literacy and libraries. But the fight is on. Authors such as William Hussey, Malorie Blackman, Michael Morpugo, Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, and Georgia Twynham have already voiced their support for this campaign. The more people who come forward and pledge their support, the less likely it is that this barbaric plan will go through, and the less likely it will be that other local authorities will look at their libraries as a soft target for making cuts.

There's much more information about the issues at the Save Lincolnshire Libraries campaign site. Please sign the online petition, and feel free to share the images on the left on your own blogs or social media.