Libraries threatened by in-fighting

<p>The warring factions in the library debate must come together to avoid forcing the public library service into a permanent downward spiral, according to a new report from influential think tank Demos and Hampshire&#39;s controversial libraries chief Yinnon Ezra.</p><p>The report, &quot;Fact and Fiction: The Future of Public Libraries&quot;, divides the library lobby into two camps: the &quot;book lobby&quot;, which argues that the solution lies in putting more re-sources into book stocks, and the &quot;diversifiers&quot;, who believe that libraries are about more than books and need to broaden their offer. The book lobby thinks the diversifiers are philistines, while the diversifiers look on the book lobby as obtuse.</p><p>&quot;Not surprisingly, each side&#39;s argument has some merit, but both have their flaws,&quot; wrote Ezra and Demos&#39; John Holden. &quot;For the future of the public library service, it is vital that the myths and realities are exposed for what they are, and that the two sides&mdash;who both passionately believe that libraries are a good thing&mdash;start to find common ground, and develop a common vision for the future.&quot;</p><p>The pair wrote that it is the &quot;worrying downward spiral&quot;, which has seen more than 100 library closures since 2001, that &quot;everyone who cares about libraries must avoid at all costs&quot;. &quot;Painful as it is, restructuring and reorganisation needs to take place&mdash;it is the only route to the regeneration of our public libraries.&quot;</p><p>They believe there is not one answer to suit every local library, as then local communities are unable to voice how their local services should be constructed. &quot;Adopting a &#39;one size fits all&#39; approach would be wrong and patronising,&quot; they said. &quot;Put simply, in some places, more books will indeed be what people want; in other places, they may prefer to invest in more computer access.&quot;</p><p>They called on the libraries world &quot;to move on and move away&quot; from &quot;crude&quot; analyses of footfalls and book stocks, as both are right &quot;depending on where you live&quot;.<br /></p>