With libraries around the world coming under almost as much threat of demise as brick-and-mortar bookstores, one UK library system is taking legal action to fight back against proposed budget cuts in their county that will mean the planned closing of a number of local public libraries.
According to an article in The Bookseller, the library system in Lincolnshire has mounted a legal campaign with the help of public interest attorneys to overturn their council’s decision to make sweeping cuts to library spending, a decision that the campaign founders state was made without attempting to look for alternatives and is in violation of UK law regarding library access.
The Public Interest Lawyers association has filed a review with a London court at the request of resident Simon Draper, and together the attorneys will work to have a court overturn the budget decisions from the local council. This decision has allowed for the closing or loss of all but fifteen libraries in the county, and the attorneys have stated that the decision violates two public interest laws, the Equity Act 2010 and the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964.
While this action is limited to Lincolnshire for the time being, the implications of the legal proceedings could have farther reaching, global repercussions. Libraries are currently fighting to stay relevant in the digital reading age, and even libraries that are already taking digital action with innovations such as ebook lending, technology renovations, and MOOCs are struggling to demonstrate to stakeholders that they serve a vital function in the community. The outcome of this campaign could mean more councils around the world feel confident in making financial decisions that attack the existence of libraries, or could mean that councils don’t want to take the risk on libraries fighting back in court and winning. However the proceedings end, it is all money that could have been better spent on keeping libraries open to the public.