One of the saddest manifestations of municipal decline has been what has happened to the local library, its stock shrunk and hours curtailed. Councils blame reductions in grants, with some justice; many local authorities have chosen to give priority to other services. But public libraries are one service used by everyone, high and low, clerical and manual, old and young. They ought to be at the leading edge of what councils can still do.
Public libraries offer one of the strongest arguments for public spending in the general interest. But for that they have to be open, all day every day.