Tag Archives: Spain

Community libraries in Spain – does this sound familiar?

The Biblioteca de las Escuelas Pias library in Madrid (image c/o Turismo Madrid on Flickr)

The following post comes to us from Natalia Garea, a Library and Information Sciences student in Spain. Natalia blogs at X Punto Cero and also contributes to BiblogTecarios – a website sharing news and views on topics of interest to information professionals in Spain.

Two weeks ago the Arts councillor from Madrid, Fernando Villalonga, announced that two new libraries in the city would be run partly by volunteers. To support his idea he said it is common in English speaking countries to have volunteer-run libraries.

After some complaints from professional associations, Madrid’s Mayor Ana Botella the spouse of the former Spanish President, Jose María Aznar, backed the Arts councillor saying that not only should libraries be run by volunteers but also several other public services. She said that “We have to be able to give back to our society what society gives tous” (Does that sound familiar?). “I refuse to believe that a library won’t be opening because there aren’t volunteers to run it”, she added.

She suggested that since the Christmas parade is run by volunteers, why wouldn’t libraries? She insisted that this is usual in other countries.

After those statements not only librarians complained but also volunteer associations who reminded the Mayor that in Spain it is illegal to replace paid work with voluntary activity and that volunteers are not “cheap labour”.

The Arts councillor has finally declared that librarians wouldn’t be replaced by volunteers but the idea seems to be spreading. Several libraries in Palma de Mallorca are closing down and it has been suggested for them to be run by volunteers as well.

Because of this and the cuts that have been done in the last months (closures, suppression of acquisitions, changes in librarians employment conditions…) a demonstration was held on February 4th to support public libraries.