Put cash on the books for libraries;Letter

6th August 1999 at 01:00
THE TES libraries campaign Open All Hours deserves the enthusiastic support of enlightened people everywhere. The backing of Culture Secretary Chris Smith is particularly welcome, provided that his fine words are translated into government action and the money to pay for it.

In promising evening and weekend opening for libraries, the Government is not, however, "responding to changing lifestyles", as their spokesman claimed. There is nothing new in having only evenings and weekends free for visiting a library, and this was once recognised by the service. As long ago as 1950, between school and university, I worked Saturday and evening shifts until 9pm in the then St Pancras Public Libraries - including at least one of the recently reprieved branches.

What the Government is responding to, as Chris Smith recognises, is "the decline and decay of the past two decades", the steady deterioration in public provision, not only in the library service.

Books, music, videos, access to information technology - all need to be readily available in public libraries.

Michael J Smith 10 Hillview North Pickenham Swaffham, Norfolk

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