200 public libraries closed here in the UK in 2012 and the picture is similarly bleak in many counties across Europe and around the world. In some cases, the response of those who oppose the closure of their local library has been to step in and run it themselves. This is often simply the only option available to prevent the loss of the library altogether.
Questions have been raised about the sustainability of such projects, with some activists recommending a more entrepreneurial approach (this presentation from ‘The Punctuated Librarian’ gives examples of such social enterprises happening in the USA). The staffing of community libraries by volunteers is also regarded as a threat by some professional libraries who see this as “job substitution” and a step towards de-professionalisation of library service provision.
As someone working in an academic library, I am also interested in exploring what can be done in a more general sense to encourage co-operation between librarians from different library sectors and across borders… just one of the reasons why I have chosen to participate in Cycling for Libraries this year!
I look forward to meeting everyone in Amsterdam next week!