Wednesday, 6 March 2013


This week I have been working in York's central library, Explore York, because it is a wonderfully central location near to the Minster at the appropriately named Library Square, York. The building is lovely to look at, with a fine red brick frontage, beautiful windows, and sweeping staircases.

Today the library is closed. I am told this is to enable all library staff to take part in an important meeting to plan the future of the service. In the difficult economic times council's have to decide how to spend taxpayer money and libraries are not high on that list. York's libraries webpage says:
"...[as] a result of the Council's overall financial pressures... we are currently looking at the possibility of setting up the library service as a social enterprise. We believe this would better enable us to direct our resources into maintaining front line library services."

It will be interesting to see how this works. I hope it will be a successful way to help us retain our library service. Explore York is the main library in York and as a result it is very busy. It has a fairly modern library layout with the inclusion of a cafe and rather a lot of computers. There is also free wifi available. However, many local libraries are not so advanced with respect to IT provisions and have suffered falling visitor and borrower numbers. Books are also a lot cheaper and more widely available than they used to be, which has perhaps driven the fall in library users. Given this context it seems unsurprising that councils may look to cut back spending and provisions for library services. 

Having said this, I hope there can be a successful way to retain a library as a local meeting place, an area for study, learning and reflection. With the incorporation of new technology, the cafe culture, and additional learning services (for both children and adults), libraries may be able to survive.

 More immediately the closure has meant that today I am working from one of York University libraries. These are freely open to the public for reference use. I think this is a wonderful resource. Not as beautiful a building outside, but the resources and facilities inside are great. 

I had York down as my reserve place when I applied for university. I now get to experience what working in the library here would have been like. Thank you York! :)

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