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Camden New Journal - By SIMON WROE
Published: 3 January 2008

Literati criticise poorly stocked libraries

Poet Laureate is among those calling for greater balance between old and new style

SOME of the borough’s best known writers say they are not using Camden’s libraries because they have too few books in them and are closed too often.
Renowned author AN Wilson, pictured right, said yesterday (Wednesday) the state of Camden Town Library in Eversholt Street got so bad six years ago he started using Marylebone Library in neighbouring Westminster instead.
The columnist, who lives in Camden Town, also criticised Camden for selling off old stock, and complained that libraries were installing computers and IT leaflets at the expense of books.
“There’s less and less room for old books,” he said. “There’s been a policy to sell them off. It’s unwise – if you want to read a book that’s more than five years old it’s not there.”
Poet Laureate Andrew Motion, also a Camden Town resident, said libraries needed to strike a balance between “old-style” and “new-style” stock.
Mr Motion, who also doesn’t use Camden’s libraries, said: “Libraries are at a crucial turning point in their existence. They need to maintain old expectations – that is, have books – and at the same time have proper internet facilities.”
Beatles’ biographer Hunter Davies, from Gospel Oak, said libraries should offer computers as well as books – but not at the expense of books.
“Libraries should have computers, videos and DVDs, but they should have books as well,” he said.
Liberal Democrat leisure chief Councillor Flick Rea, whose cabinet portfolio covers libraries, challenged Mr Wilson’s view of the borough’s libraries.
She said: “There will always be people who [criticise]. You could have a library stuffed full of books that haven’t been read in 50 years or you could have a live and thriving library. Fewer and fewer people are getting information from books alone.”
Cllr Rea promised a consultation on opening hours later in the year.

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