Children's Laureate Julia Donaldson has spoken out in support of libraries, arguing that it is a "false economy" to close them down.
Donaldson is about to embark on a six-week nationwide tour of British libraries, beginning at John O'Groats and finishing at Land's End. She is also setting up a website called picturebookplays.co.uk, which launches on 10th September, as a resource for teachers.
According to Reuters, the author of The Gruffalo said that savings accrued from closing down libraries would be outweighed by much larger costs incurred from higher crime that the facilities help to reduce.
"Something like 50% of prisoners are illiterate, so it doesn't make sense to be shutting down the places which are stimulating and encouraging a love of books," she said. "It's a false economy."
According to campaigner Alan Gibbons, 125 libraries were closed down or handed to volunteers last year, with a further 244 at risk as part of a government savings drive.
Donaldson added: "I want to celebrate libraries. They are places in which you can develop your imagination, free yourself from circumstances . . . Often libraries will be the only place that there's a space where children can read, with so many independent bookshops disappearing."