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0120130904As 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.
02 LAST20130911As public libraries shut down or cut their opening hours, Michael Rosen continues a two part investigation into the library story from the ancient world to the modern and beyond.
In the second episode, Michael visits the biggest public lending library in Britain, the brand new Library of Birmingham. In this cultural centre for the 21st century, the emphasis is as much on access to information technology and cultural events as on the old-fashioned book. What will it do for the city, and how might the new super library affect smaller community libraries in the area?
Matthew Nicholls from Reading University takes us on a tour of the libraries of imperial Rome, with their papyrus scrolls and busts of great men. And from Bexar County, Texas, we hear how any busts of great men will be virtual busts, pictures on the screens of visitors to what has been hailed as America's first "bookless library." Is this the future?
Producer: Chris Ledgard.

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