Horsham library’s future

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AS ONE who has been a regular user of Horsham Library for over 42 years, I was saddened to read that a computerised touch-screen self-service system is being installed – presumably as part of the county council’s programme to reduce public service overheads.

Thankfully, no members of the library staff are to be made redundant and some will initially be on hand to guide those of us not familiar with the new technology.

But in your report (County Times, August 4), no mention is made of the cost of the new computer system to the public purse. And how are the existing library staff likely to be deployed in the longer term?

If money is not to be saved through staff redundancies then any cost savings must inevitably mean fewer quality books. Given the free market views of our elected councillors those that are purchased will no doubt be works with potential populist appeal – mainly in paperback form.

Reference books, classical works and literary novels with a minority appeal are likely to rate low on the purchasing agenda on the basis of not being cost effective – and rated elitist. Hooray for Mills & Boon!

Not that long ago, free public libraries – endowed by the likes of the philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie – were primarily places of learning and self-improvement for those not fortunate enough to have cash to spend on books.

Now they appear to resemble a kind of quasi-entertainment supermarket with baskets on hand for DVDs, CDs and, yes, books – all with the promise of a state of the art self-service checkout.

And for these dubious ‘improvements’ our town library is due to close for three weeks and more during September – just at the start of the academic year. Great timing!

ROBERT B. WORLEY

Ayshe Court Drive, Horsham