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Neither a seller nor a buyer be

According to a report in The Guardian, a U.K. arts minister is proposing that the nation’s libraries take the unprecedented step of becoming booksellers as well as lenders:

Libraries risk sleepwalking through the century unless radical ideas are implemented, the arts minister Margaret Hodge claimed today at the launch of a long-delayed, much-anticipated consultation document on the future of libraries in the U.K.


The document, called “Empower, Inform, Enrich,” contains 30 short essays designed to stimulate debate, from contributors including author Tracy Chevalier, Richard Charkin, executive director of Bloomsbury, and even the managing director of Starbucks U.K., Darcy Willson-Rymer…. In the document, Hodge raises the prospect of libraries being allowed to sell books as well as lend them.

The Guardian article doesn’t delve very deeply into Hodge’s proposal, but it does quote opposition arts minister Ed Vaizey as saying that the consultation is “a complete waste of time”:

It is barking mad for Margaret Hodge to shoot from the hip and say libraries should start to sell books without any thought at all to where libraries sit in the publishing ecology.