Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Should we close down Libraries?

In amongst all the various chancellor's cuts in the budget, I've been reading around and came across something from the Good Library Blog about library lending costs:-

The average cost of borrowing a book in the central London boroughs in 2005/6 was
Camden £11.50
Greenwich £7.14
Hackney £10.07
Hammersmith £6.63
Islington £10.46
Kensington £8.54
Lambeth £10.29
Lewisham £5.77
Southwark £6.89
Tower Hamlets £9.90
Wandsworth £3.64
Westminster £5.91
When it's costing £10/lend, it makes no sense at all. You can buy a hardback edition of the 1st Harry Potter for less than that. Even at £3.64, you can buy a paperback of a Jules Verne novel.

And bear in mind, that's a BUY, not a lend. My last book, Harry Markopolous' book about Madoff was about £17, but I'll lend that to someone who will read it, meaning it cost no more than £8.50/read.

So, give people the money, let them buy books and lend to each other, or resell or give to charity. It's now a more efficient model than public libraries.


  1. Agreed. Local libraries should be locally funded. Divide cost of library by number of Council Tax payers, then have a local referendum; are you happy to pay £x per annum precept on your Council Tax to keep the library open, yes or no?

    I am indifferent as to the answer (as I don't know what £x is). It's more important to know what £x is to make an informed choice.

  2. Until I read those figures, I was a supporter of libraries as a public good.

    Your answer makes more sense than mine, especially when you consider the variations even in London. Libraries are very much the static costs of buildings, staff and software now, not the books. If people are using them more then the costs per lend go down. So, maybe for somewhere like Weston-Super-Mare which is full of pensioners, libraries work.

    I might have to see if my council will give some figures.