Deary: "libraries have had their day"

Horrible Histories author Terry Deary has broken ranks with the many authors who have spoken out in support of the public library service, claiming "libraries have had their day" and that much of what is said about them is "sentimentality".

The Sunderland-born author spoke out as Sunderland City Council considered closing local libraries. Deary told the Sunderland Echo: "Libraries have had their day. They are a Victorian idea and we are in an electronic age. They either have to change and adapt or they have to go. I know some people like them but fewer and fewer people are using them and these are straitened times. A lot of the gush about libraries is sentimentality." He added: "The book is old technology and we have to move on, so good luck to the council."

Deary has enjoyed giving voice to unconventional views in the past, once telling the Guardian: "Kids should leave school at 11 and go to work."

Sunderland currently maintains 20 static libraries, with some co-located with other services. The council is looking to cut that number to focus on "library hubs" that would "provide an extended offer".

Sunderland council has made savings of around £100m in the past three years, and is looking to save the same amount over the next three years. In 2012-13, the library service has a budget of £4.6m, with a target of saving £850,000 by 2013-14.

In a report due to be discussed by the council¹s cabinet tomorrow (13th February), the council's executive director of health, housing and adult services said: "The library service will become a beacon of excellence in the community for reading, learning and information. Library services will support the development of confident individuals and communities who can realise their full potential and contribute to the broader vision of the
city."

If the report is approved, a consultation into the changes will be launched.