She said: “Employment, lifelong learning, and social inclusion are all key objectives for the EU. And for many local communities and particularly disadvantaged groups, libraries perform essential services in providing access to the internet, and to other sources of information and learning.
“A survey earlier this year showed that nearly 100 million Europeans visited their public library in 2012, with some 14 million using it to access the internet, and 24 million to engage in informal learning activities. One in six people applying for jobs successfully did so using free library internet access.
“Groups who most frequently used library services included the elderly, members of ethnic minorities and people from rural areas.
“Overall 83% of those using free public library computer and internet services reported a positive impact on their lives – saving time and money, improving skills, gaining access to government services and employment- and health-related resources.
“We all know the pressure on local councils and other public bodies to save money. However, there is a real danger that cuts to library services will mean that people who are already worse off in terms of employment, education and other services, will lose out even more.