Closing libraries will impoverish the Netherlands: commission

The large-scale closing of libraries will impoverish the Netherlands, a commission says in a report to be handed to the education minister on Tuesday.

According to the report, closing libraries will lead to a less scholarly population, a knowledge economy which does not do so well, a worse education system and a less social society.

Over the past ten years, 300 libraries have been closed, the Volkskrant reports. There are currently 843 libraries in operation.

Easy option

Commission chairman Job Cohen, former mayor of Amsterdam, told the paper libraries are an easy option in the current austerity atmosphere. ‘It is all very well to say everything is available on the internet, close the library and save money. But in the long term this will cost money.’ he said.

Cohen said without libraries, more people will not be able to read well, will not be able to meet the demands of the knowledge economy and will drop out of society.

‘80% of jobs require the ability to read well. That percentage will only increase in the future. Already the number of badly educated people in the Netherlands has risen to 1.3 million,’ Cohen said.

The commission says libraries are a social good and it wants to see physical libraries with digital content taking a central place in communities as a place to find information and to socialise with other people.

Meanwhile, Nos television reports that the Netherlands’ libraries are to begin offering a free e-book loan service.

People who are members of the library will be able to download a book out of a choice of 5,000 titles. The service will be free to start with but a fee of 20 euros for 18 books will be introduce in April for books published less then three years ago.

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