Camden News - by CHARLOTTE CHAMBERS Published: 7 August 2008
‘Libraries are on borrowed time’
Campaigners’ fears over books shortage
A LEADING libraries campaigner has spoken of his disappointment at what he believes is “closure of libraries by stealth”. Alan Templeton, chairman of Camden Public Library Users Group (CPLUG), said his hopes of a reverse in the decline of books stock in Camden’s libraries have been dashed.
New figures show the the number is still plummeting with statistics posted by CIPFA, a national monitoring body, showing that between 2006 and March 2007 more than 35,000 books were sold off or thrown away by the Town Hall.
Since 1999, Camden has reduced its books stock by 200,000 books which is “effectively closing five libraries by stealth,” according to retired engineer Mr Templeton, 70.
He added: “We did hope a change of regime at the Town Hall would have an effect, but it didn’t. “It’s quite obvious there’s not been any new broom effect. We couldn’t even find any evidence of a feather-duster effect to be honest.”
The current Liberal Democrat and Conservative coalition ousted Labour in Camden two years ago.
Mr Templeton said: “As the reduction in book stock has been a consistent feature for many years, the conclusion has to be that it has been a deliberate council policy.”
The big debate about the future of libraries lies in how the budget should be carved up and whether more money should be put into books or other services such as computers and CDs.
Mr Templeton is also happy to lock horns with Councillor Flick Rea, the Lib Dem leisure chief who has in the past spoken about the need to reassess the way libraries serve the community.
He said: “I think she didn’t realise the full significance of the decrease in book stock and the full extent of the damage done.”
A public consultation on libraries was recently conducted with results expected to be released at the end of the month.