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CD and DVD lending to continue at French-language libraries
A plan to stop lending CDs and DVDs in Belgium's French-language libraries has been put on hold for a year.
Earlier this year, the Wallonia-Brussels Federation announced that it would start to close its loss-making médiathèques, with all of them gone by 2020, because falling demand meant the service was no longer viable.
It was proposed that the "Point Culture" department in libraries would remain open, but would instead focus on the broader goal of promoting culture through debates, workshops, screenings and exhibitions - and not through lending media.
The Wallonia-Brussels Federation culture minister, Bénédicte Linard, has now announced that the lending service will continue until at least the end of next year, after consultation with union representatives.
Point Culture general manager Tony de Vuyst said: "We are happy with this endorsement, which will allow us to work carefully on developing our future strategy."
When the closure was first announced, Pierre Hemptinne, director of culture in the French-speaking library service, said: "Since 2000 we have been losing about 15% of our attendance and revenue each year. We lent eight million items in 2000. Today we are at a few hundred thousand a year.
"There is a digital tidal wave in the way people access culture. We cannot do anything about that - we have no control over it. We tried to adjust our prices, but there is nothing we can do. Young people just aren't coming any more.
"When you see the workload involved in terms of feeding the database, there comes a point when you have a problem with using public money."