As public libraries shut down or cut their opening hours, Michael Rosen opens the book of library history to investigate their journey from the ancient world to the modern and beyond.
In the first of two programmes, Michael goes to Herefordshire where, earlier this year, there was a plan to cut council funding to the library service by 75%. There was a public outcry and the plans have been re-considered. Councillors and library staff discuss how they're trying to find ways through the crisis and protect the Victorian legacy of free libraries for rural communities. In the village of Peterchurch, we hear how volunteers are running the county's smallest library...in a church tower.
Simon Eliot, a Professor of the History of the Book, explains the power of the Victorian library movement; and Brian Ashley, director of libraries at Arts Council England, argues that as we re-shape our idea of a public library service, we have to accept the idea of some neighbourhood libraries shutting down.
Producer: Chris Ledgard.
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