More on Margaret Hodges & public libraries on Newsnight

Following on from Kate’s excellent overview of the Newsnight programme (15 March) which featured a segment on libraries (‘Are public libraries now an ethos in search of a purpose?’), a few notes below on the technology aspects which were briefly discussed:

Information is now being plumbed into people’s homes through web and services such as Amazon. 70% of households now online, helping to reduce the need to visit libraries.

Alan Gibbons (writer) said that we need libraries now more than ever to cover new and old reading technologies, as a large % of people can’t afford to buy books. He said that libraries don’t reflect the 24 hour culture that we now live in and that the recent parliamentary committee on libraries identified poor leadership of libraries as the problem for the decline in borrower numbers/usage of public libraries

Margaret Hodge talked of the ‘challenge of digitisation’ and was keen to mention ebooks. She claimed that only 12 library authorities are thinking of how to provide ebooks on loan to the public but these stats are a little suspect as in London Libraries Consortium alone 10 authorities offer ebooks…

She gave a teaser on next week’s report saying that maybe library authorities should merge instead of having 151 separate ones. Also hinted at encouraging partnerships between libraries and adult ed, universities, post offices etc

The programme’s available on bbciplayer – section starts approx 21.24 minutes in 🙂

Catherine Dhanjal

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