Ever since the days of Alexandria, the library has been the palace of the mind, the University of All, open to all.
Kent County Council (KCC) like all other County Councils have raided library budgets to save money. Libraries across Kent are highly valued community spaces. and after severe cuts costs the taxpayers of Kent £12.7 million pounds in 2014/15 according to the latest figures available. The graph below represent the costs of all libraries in all districts. So Thanet’s Libraries combined cost the most and Dartford’s the least. All Shepway libraries cost £922,000.
The KCC data sheds light on the groups most reliant on their local libraries. Though a smaller proportion of users from lower socio-economic groups used libraries – 29.7% compared to 35.9% of the upper socio-economic group – usage by minorities and disabled people was proportionally higher than in the rest of the population: 43.9% of adults in the black and minority ethnic population used public libraries, compared to 32.4% of white adults. The same pattern was repeated among disabled adults: 35.3% of disabled adults used libraries, compared to 33.2% of those adults with no disability or long-standing illness.
Across Kent 4.075 million items were borrowed in 2014/15, meaning that for every man woman and child in Kent borrowed approximately 2.66 items each in 2014/15.
Libraries are essential to our communities yet they are so often the first to be feel any cuts. The fact that the budgets for buying new books and keeping our libraries refreshed with new stock has fallen dramatically is tantamount to literary genocide. Kent’s library service has for decades been one of its great, tangible symbols of social justice and has adapted admirably to changing demand. This can be seen in the usage of computers by Library users which in Kent was 576,000 hours or 24,000 days or 66 years worth of use in one year by all users.
It is evident from the data that those from from lower socio-economic groups used library computers more than any other socio-economic group, as they are probably the least likely to have one at home or the internet.
I have to confess that historically part of my family tree, built and gave a Library to the people of Manchester. The John Rylands Library which is now part of the University of Manchester has been one of the palaces of the mind and its books have educated and played an important role in developing the minds of the future.
If elected on May 4th, I will certainly fight to keep the levels of spending on Libraries at there present levels and if possible to increase their funding. Libraries are essential to our communities without them the palaces of our minds are all the poorer.
Vote Bryan Rylands for Folkestone West – Vote Independent on May 4th
Published & Promoted by Bryan Rylands Flat D Avenay Court Folkestone CT20 2LN
All the information above is my own and does not represent the views of the Shepwayvox Team who have kindly allowed me to use their blogsite.