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Whitstable Library: how long before they privatise it?

Updated on September 15, 2016
Whitstable Views profile image

CJ Stone is an author and columnist. He appears regularly in the British press. Currently he has a column in the Whitstable Gazette.

Whitstable Library
Whitstable Library

Dick Gaughan - Tom Paine's Bones (Recommended)


First of all I would like to put in a good word for all libraries everywhere, but particularly the one in Whitstable. It provides a fantastic public service, and is a genuine bargain to boot.

I go as often as I can.

You can read the newspapers for free. You can browse the internet. You can read up on local history and study a variety of reference works, some of them marvellously obscure. You can trace information. You can borrow books by your favourite authors, immerse yourself in wild west adventure or outer space, true crime or historical romance. You can learn a hobby or a trade. You can rent out CDs or DVDs. You can meet people. You can cogitate and contemplate. You can watch the world go by.

Best of all you can order any book from any library anywhere in Kent and it only costs 25p; or from anywhere else in the country for only £2.00. I’ve been testing this particular service out, selecting a variety of different tomes to see what they can provide me with, while, at the same time, indulging my current obsessions.

So far I’ve been let down only twice. The first was a book by AL Morton called The World of the Ranters, about the loud-mouthed seventeenth-century religious anarchists of the same name (I‘m sure I was one in a previous life); the second was The Rights of Man by Tom Paine, possibly the most famous work of English dissent ever written. Certainly the most influential.

The World of the Ranters went missing in Herne Bay. In the end I obtained a copy from Bedfordshire. However, if you happen to have it on a shelf somewhere, let me know. I wouldn‘t mind owning a copy of my own.

As for The Rights of Man: this is a scandal. The only copy in the whole of Kent has gone missing, and the library service hasn’t been able to replace it.

Not being able to supply the readers of Kent with a copy of The Rights of Man is like not being able to supply Macbeth, say, or Great Expectations. It’s that important.

It makes you wonder what other classic works of literature may be missing. I shudder to think. Maybe they don’t have Great Expectations or Macbeth either.

Of course, this is no fault of the Kent library service, but is simply indicative of the crisis in services across the country.


Library stocks in the UK have fallen by over 20 million in the last ten years. Eighty two libraries in Lancashire, Cumbria, Devon, Buckinghamshire, Cambridge and Hertfordshire are set to close.

I predict an attempt at privatisation within the next ten years. Like every other public service, libraries will soon be up for grabs. This is regardless of which party is in power. Let’s face it: these days anything that functions has to make a profit.

The trick will be to starve them of cash, watch the inevitable decline, then hand it over to private companies while quietly restoring public subsidy, but this time as profit for the investors.

It’s exactly what they did to the railways.

So expect a Starbucks franchise in your library in the not-too distant future, and a burger bar in the corner.

“Food for thought, brought to you by McDonald’s.”

You think I’m joking? It’s already started.

Opening Hours

Sunday: 10.00am - 4.00pm

Monday: 9.00am - 6.00pm

Tuesday: 9.00am - 6.00pm

Wednesday: 9.00am - 6.00pm

Thursday: 9.00am - 6.00pm

Friday: 9.00am - 6.00pm

Saturday: 9.00am - 5.00pm


Whitstable Library: Contact details

31-33 Oxford Street

Tel: 01227 273309

Fax: 01227 771812



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    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      I like reading. If I could go there. I think I will enjoy reading book over there. it look great building and nice place to reading some book.

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Cardiff library was on its way downhill fast many years back after they got rid of the old library as a library and moved to a smaller section of another building. A lot of the old stock went missing!

      I joined anyway and had cause to need the Kalevala which was supposed to be there but it wasn't. I wrote a story about this for the Big Issue because I ended up getting a brand new copy sent to me from some friends in Finland while the library was still trying to locate the missing copy or get another!

      Other books I knew were in the old library like Gurdjieff and Madame Blavatsky had gone.

      PS Get Paine books here:

    • profile image

      Pam Field 8 years ago

      We need to make sure public libraries survive and are properly funded.

      It is really about time someone looked at the salaries of librarians.

      The pay of librarians is generally very low compared with other graduate careers, but the salaries of librarians in local public libraries is appallingly low. I too want to see it remain in public ownership, but we should not expect people to continue to provide this service at such low wages, and it is about time we paid for it properly.

      £15,000 p.a. is very poor pay for someone who has studied to degree level and this should not be tolerated.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 8 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      What a national disgrace if England's libraries are privatized or simply closed!  This is sooo wrong in more ways than I can count! 

      I'm lucky to live in a city whose library's main funding comes from a group of wealthy but civic-minded individuals, augmented by a county mill levy (tax) as well as its own gourmet-ish cafe and used bookshop. The sense that a free-to-all library is so ingrained here that any move to bring in Starbucks or McDonald's would simply not be tolerated.