Friday, October 14, 2011

Library Closings in London Lead to Demonstrations and Raise Questions About Society Priorities: Sports vs. Libraries?

You can tell a lot about a society by its choices about where to "save money", especially in the current economic situation, where government cuts are seen as necessary by many governments, also in the United Kingdom.

A High Court decision affirming the right of the Brent Council -- Brent is where Wembley is located in London -- to make library closures in Kensal Rise, Barham Park, Preston Road, Neasden, Cricklewood and Tokyngton has led to a wave of protests and demonstrations -- as reported by Benedict Moore-Bridge and Miranda Bryant in Families form human shields to stop libraries being shut down.

See also the Brent Council page and the DailyMail.

The legal argument raised against the library closures was that they discriminate against minorities, the disabled and the elderly, who have difficulty getting to more distantly located city libraries, such as the one at Wembley, which is to be turned into a "mega-library", in part with the savings made by smaller library closures.

The High Court found to the contrary, however, that the Brent Council had the right to close libraries if it so decided and that its decision did not contradict the Equality Act 2010.

Public Libraries News discusses all of the possible challenges in the UK to library closings, including provisions of the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act which requires authorities to run a "comprehensive and efficient" public library service.

Presumably, one reason the libraries in Brent are coming under the axe is because of the Wembley Regeneration that includes the recently constructed 90,000 capacity Wembley National Stadium, which will host the upcoming 2012 Olympic football matches and the 2013 UEFA Champions League Final.

Life is a matter of priorities.

We are great sports fans ourselves, but city councils should not construct, maintain and/or modernize athletic facilities at the cost of libraries. That sends the wrong message to the people of any country, especially the youth.

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