Protecting all libraries could be damaging

The Tinder Foundation has argued that libraries should not receive an automatic ‘get out of austerity free’ card in the face of closures.

The charity wants libraries to become ‘community hubs’, offering local communities more than just a book-lending service, by working with other local groups such as Jobcentres and GPs to offer services such as digital skills, jobs clubs, community workshops and school programmes.

Helen Milner, the Tinder Foundation’s chief executive, argued that protecting libraries from closure at all costs could actually be holding the sector back.

She said: “I agree with the view that we must protect essential services, knowledge and education for those most disadvantaged in our communities. I don’t agree that libraries should receive an automatic ‘get out of austerity-free’ card, merely on the grounds of being libraries.

“Some libraries are doing an amazing job of supporting the needs of their community, using digital and other means to engage and empower excluded and vulnerable groups. These are the community hubs. Online, offline, on the ground, in real life. Other libraries are not, and it’s time we faced that fact. In face of less and less money, we need to consider that those libraries need to close.”