Wales Library Merge

By: Abigail Yeager

As stated on thebookseller.com, the library system in Wales is moving to a single library card that will work at all of their branches. This comes after the decision in January 2014 by Staffordshire County Council to close nearly half of the libraries in Wales.

The decision was made to save an estimated £1.3m, due to decreasing library visits. The new move to a single library card will allow library users to access the materials of any library in the system, saving an estimated 70% for local libraries.

Wales is hardly the first country to try this system out. In 2012, three London boroughs combined their access to save money, presumably in the cost of acquiring new materials, and residents could then request items from any of the 21 libraries in the system.

America has also made moves toward this type of library system, although those systems are still broken up by state; in Maryland, counties are merging their library systems to grant increasing access to users throughout the state.

Formerly, one would need a separate library card, registered to the appropriate county for each library system. Currently, library cards from both Washington and Frederick counties can be used in either system.

In this increasingly digital age, this seems to be one response to the sharing of physical forms of information. With library usage down, it will spread the cost of acquiring new materials through multiple libraries while merging potential library users into one market.

In Wales, it is also hoped that this new system will encourage more people to sign up for library cards, something that can only be helped by the media attention on this change.

The merge has started with the six north Wales authorities and is expected to adopted throughout Wales sometime in 2016.

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