Birmingham Libraries are reportedly asking the public to donate books published in the last 12 months because of budget cuts.
On Facebook, BBC West Midlands (BBC WM) posted a picture of a leaflet that says: “Books required! Due to public saving cuts we are no longer purchasing any new books or newspapers. Therefore we are looking for any books that have been published in the last 12 months to be donated to the library. All gratefully received.”
Birmingham City Council has not yet responded to requests for information from The Bookseller, but councillor Penny Holbrook told BBC WM that the authority is "continuing to purchase newspapers and periodicals, online subscription, e-books and stock for special collections - such as large print - and non-fiction standing orders, but at a reduced level".
The news has already caused outrage amongst Birmingham residents and campaigners. Many are annoyed with the council for making cuts after spending £183m on the city’s main library - the Library of Birmingham – even though the Library of Birmingham does not itself accept library donations.
Laura Swaffield of The Library Campaign said the demands of the Library of Birmingham have “gutted the small local libraries that people need most”, adding: “This monster building was a stupid extravagance even in the balmy pre-crash era when it was first planned."
One Birmingham resident said on social media: “All that money on a new library and can't afford books! Should have built a cheaper library and bought more books.”
Another said the council authority “shuts down a perfectly good library, opens a new £200m one that they can't afford… cuts staff and now asks for donated books and newspapers. You really couldn't make this up. Library of Birmingham has been an expensive moneypit and vanity project since day one. They should be ashamed.”
The Library of Birmingham, which opened in 2013, has already reduced its opening hours as part of the council’s plans to make savings in excess of £100m in 2015/16.
In a recent blog for The Bookseller, veteran library campaigner Desmond Clarke argued "our libraries are being starved of resources" and that annual investment in new stock is at a record low, just 6 pence in every £1 spent on library services. "Our libraries are being starved of resources and borrowing is in steep decline," Clarke said. "The investment in materials must be urgently addressed."
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