Is there evidence people are reading fewer books?

Re Saturday’s Courier: “Spending cuts: Libraries in firing line” Would it be possible for the decision makers to answer the following queries:

Could Calderdale residents see this “emerging evidence of alternative methods for delivering library services with central hubs and alternative models of provision” - in detail. What are the specific plans for sharing services, accommodation & using volunteers.

Does ‘altered’ opening hours really mean ‘shorter’?

Could the ‘background reports to council leaders’ be published? The article says: “Up to 200,000 a year could also be saved by reducing the fund for buying new books, CDs, DVDs and other library stock, demand for which is falling.”

Is there real evidence that demand is falling? There has been a freeze on requests for books not currently on the library catalogue and borrowers have been unable to make requests (leading to falling demands) so figures will be inaccurate if they are taken, say, from the past 12 months.

If the reasoning behind these proposals were more transparent, Calderdale residents may have to agree that, in fact, there is no other way but to curtail expenditure, but where’s the radical thinking here? Why the ‘across the board’ cuts - all large libraries down to 37 hours and all medium-sized libraries down to 25 hours?

Why? Shouldn’t proportionality play a part in calculating new opening hours if it comes to that? And shouldn’t overall usage and value to the community also be taken into consideration. Library services are far, far more than issuers of books: unfortunately the number of books issued is an easy calculation to make but not one on which decisions like these should be made. The real value of libraries is immeasurable - literally and metaphorically.

There is a passionate argument for libraries here: http://www.thebookseller.com/blogs/consider-context.html

And here: http://falseeconomy.org.uk/blog/save-oxfordshire-libraries-speech-philip-pullman

If you can read these - thank a teacher and if you can’t because you don’t have access to the internet, go to your local library - it’s free there.

Susan Hawkes