Okay, I’m exaggerating a little, but this is still incredibly sad. Birmingham’s libraries, with the partial exception of the new Central Library, have had to stop buying new books in order to save money.
I can’t think of anything much worse. Surely this will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If people can’t find the books they want at the library, they’ll stop going. If people stop going, there’ll be nobody to support the library service. And without anyone to support it, it will become ever more impoverished and be able to afford even fewer books. And so it goes on.
I don’t know if there is any way round this. Could libraries become lenders of digital books only? Would that be cheaper than having to buy print books? Could they stock books donated by members of the public, in much the same way as charity shops? I’m not sure, but something needs to be done before we lose the whole system of libraries as we know them. And it needs to be done soon.