Volunteering has a central role in Tory doctrine. Think David Cameron’s Big Society.
According to the Chartered Institute of Public finance and Accountancy, 130 public libraries closed in Britain last year. Full-time staff fell by 712 and about 3,000 more volunteers were recruited. There are now over 51,000 library volunteers.
Oxfordshire has closed no libraries: it has scrapped its mobile library service instead.
Our libraries are social and business hubs. People without a home computer depend on library facilities, not least for participation in government programmes. Book storage is one of the least important functions of public libraries, yet it is the one volunteers are most prepared to handle. The rest require qualified and experienced librarians rather than willing volunteers. Imagine volunteer electrician, volunteer pilot, volunteer surgeon.