The Library Campaign has urged the Government to stop the "secret slaughter" of libraries, which the body claims could see a quarter of the UK's libraries closed.
Campaigners say that with 201 library service points cut last year, 336 threatened with closure this year so far, and a further 40% in funding expected by 2016, there could be 1,000 libraries lost in the near future. On top of closures, they warn that more are being passed on to volunteer groups to run, while others are seeing their services hollowed out, losing books stock and trained staff while their opening hours are slashed.
Campaigner Shirley Burnham criticised the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and libraries minister Ed Vaizey. She said: "The Minister, Ed Vaizey, was vociferous in defence of libraries when in Opposition. But he has been frozen into inaction since coming into office. He and his officials are in denial, muttering 'What crisis?' as hundreds of libraries are closed, or the keys handed to volunteers - with no support."
Laura Swaffield, Chair of the Library Campaign, said the Government should intervene in areas which are seeing large cuts, as well as providing better information for groups looking to take over libraries that would otherwise shut. She said: "Many communities are now trying to run their own libraries, as the only way to save them. They get no national help or advice. Not from the government, not from Arts Council England (ACE). At the recent Library Campaign conference in London, Jim Brooks of the Little Chalfont volunteer-run library in Buckinghamshire reported that 130 volunteer groups have found their way to him, desperate for help. Jim is the only national resource giving advice. It's absurd."
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