There's an interesting article in today's Mirror Newspaper: "Jobless forced to pay for library internet access just as more services move online". This is a shameful, disgraceful situation, and one that we should all abhor. I'd like to just say 'it's wrong' and move on, because it's so clearly wrong, so insanely wrong that's all that should need saying. But unfortunately, more needs saying because it's happening.
If we are to stress (as I think we should) that libraries are there for more than books - that they are there to help people in the local community, then the library should be there for people to help themselves. A good library, staffed by professional librarians should be helping people in all manner of different ways. It is there to provide access to materials in any form - a fact is still a fact if it's in a book or on the internet. That there are libraries which are charging people to get factual information, or to fill in the forms online that the government is now insisting that they do is a terrible condemnation of the situation that we currently find ourselves in.
Of course, it's also worse than that, since it depends on where you live. Some counties don't charge for access, so we're once again back to the postcode lottery on libraries and their services. We all understand that libraries have to get revenue whenever they possibly can, but this is a VERY different situation to charging for the odd DVD or CD. People have a choice of deciding to pay for their entertainment from the library - they don't have a choice on filling out forms to claim their entitlements (I refuse to call them benefits), and a library with a librarian available to help out if needed, should be available to them. A clock ticking away the pennies in the background is not a conducive way to work.
Libraries do not exist to make money. They exist to help people.