We must defend public libraries from the threat of a market-based ideological framework by Daniel Bailey.
Public libraries have helped shape a more inclusive society ever since the Public Libraries Act 1850 gave boroughs the power to establish book lending services free at the point of use – a service which had a tremendous effect on improving literacy. The collectivised philosophy underpinning these services inspired Conservative Party opposition to this Act on the grounds that they may incubate social agitation and subversion. Today, they still provide a common space where information and literature is accessible to all, help cultivate community spirit, and provide computer and internet facilities particularly valued by the elderly and job-seekers (as noted by a survey conducted recently on behalf of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation). Indeed, it can be seen as an exemplar of a public good.