i News reports that children are picking up books in libraries and “trying to swipe left”, while for many families books have become a luxury they cannot afford, teachers have been told.
The issues raised at the National Education Union (NUT section) conference in Brighton over public funding cuts to libraries highlighted the need for the services for people who are struggling in society.
Teachers heard during one debate that public libraries are often used as “armbands” for those who need to use a phone or the internet for free, and as “sanity savers” for parents who need a place to take their children.
Nearly 900 public libraries have closed in the past decade, Jonathan Reddiford from North Somerset said, with many more expected to go in what he called a “shocking hammering of vital public services”.
One delegate from North Somerset, Jennifer Bhambri-Lyte, said during the debate: “In a world of food banks, as my colleagues have previously talked about, books are a luxury that many families just cannot afford.
“So when your housing benefit has been stopped, libraries have a phone you can use for free. When your landlord has put up your rent so high you can’t afford the broadband bill, a library can offer you free internet access to apply for that job, and when you simply can’t even afford to heat your own home, take your child to the library. It is warm, and you never know, you might even read a book.”
Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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