Save Our Libraries - Stand Up Against Library Closures!
Further Government Cuts Threaten the Future of UK Libraries
Save Our Libraries! This page brings you the latest news and updates on the worrying threat to UK public libraries - library closures, and looks at why libraries are just so important, as well as explaining why we can't let them go without a fight!
After the government cut funding to local government during the current economic crisis, and passed on responsibility for making the savings to local authorities, over 450 UK public libraries are now under threat from closure.
Yes, that's right. Over FOUR HUNDRED & FIFTY.
Thankfully, a backlash is forming right across the UK as people fight back against this tidal wave of threatened local library closures. But what can be done, and will it make any difference?
To add insult to injury, library users have been accused of being "white and middle class". So what about all the other people who use libraries, many of whom see them as a lifeline? What about the 1 in 5 people who don't have internet access at home? What about the mums and toddlers who want to visit the library for storytime?
Find out everything you need to know about the current library crisis in the UK, and what you can do to help stop it from happening.
"What in the world would we do without our libraries?"
- Katharine Hepburn
The Threat of Library Closures across the UK
So, here's the deal. As part of the economic crisis in the UK, and the Conservative Government's continued pledge to cut the immense UK deficit left by the former Labour Government, Eric Pickles and friends have cut funding to local government, leaving these local authorities with the deciding choices in how to make the necessary savings. While some are being perfectly sensible about their decisions, other local authorities are slashing vital public services, with the biggest casualty being public libraries.
At present, 451 libraries (386 libraries and 65 mobile libraries) are under threat of complete closure or have already closed, out of a total 4,517 libraries in the UK (figures by CILIP). One of the worst offenders is Gloucestershire, where the number of local libraries with full opening hours are being reduced from 38 to just 9. Only 9 fully open libraries in an entire county? Elsewhere, in Oxfordshire, 20 libraries out of 43 are up for the chop. If Oxfordshire isn't safe, where is?
While it is perfectly understandable that cuts have to be made in this country, the government should be thinking long and hard about what exactly it DOES cut, and at what cost.
Public libraries are vital public services. Not only do they provide the obvious - free books - they also provide an information lifeline for many. Sadly, many have fallen into decline over the past few years, either through lack of funding or lack of use. And now look where that has gotten us - on the brink of losing them altogether.
There is talk of legal challenges, but only time will tell if these come to fruition. There is some hope; the other cost-cutting proposal that caused outrage amongst the UK public was that of the plan to sell off our national forests. Thankfully, public outcry caused the government to do an embarrassing u-turn and throw out the plans. But, the library closure plans stay, and are growing.
So what to do? First, read the speech below by Philip Pullman. Then, peruse the ideas, links, information and campaigns below, and do something, anything, to get involved, and make a difference. Please.
What do you think?
Do you agree with the proposed library closures in the UK?
Leave the libraries alone.
Author Philip Pullman Stands Up for Libraries! - Rousing Oxford Speech Goes Viral
Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials and other children's literature.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
On 20th January 2011, author Philip Pullman (best known for the trilogy His Dark Materials, the first book of which was made into the film, The Golden Compass), made a rousing speech at Oxford, speaking out against the proposed closures of over 400 libraries across the UK, 20 of which are to be in Oxfordshire alone (almost half of the current tally).
Philip's speech resonated so much with the British public that it soon went viral, being quoted and tweeted and blogged about across the world wide web. If you haven't already read it, follow the link below, because if this wonderful speech doesn't have you down at your local library with a protest placard, nothing will.
"Somewhere in Blackbird Leys, somewhere in Berinsfield, somewhere in Botley, somewhere in Benson or in Bampton, to name only the communities beginning with B whose libraries are going to be abolished, somewhere in each of them there is a child right now, there are children, just like me at that age in Battersea, children who only need to make that discovery to learn that they too are citizens of the republic of reading. Only the public library can give them that gift."
Like Pullman and countless others, I was one of those children, and I want my children to be those children too.
What did you think of Philip Pullman's speech about Library Closures?
Did you agree with Philip?
Top Articles & Resources on the UK Library Closures
- Library Users Labelled White and Middle Class
Fury as library users are branded "white and middle class", adding further fuel to the row over proposed library closures in the UK
- Library Closures: The Full, Infuriating Picture
Extremely worrying map of library closures proposed across the UK.
- Library Protest Day of Action against Library Closures
A carnival of resistance against library closures is proposed on 5th February, with read-ins and sit-ins at local libraries across Britain.
- Map and List of Threatened Library Closures
Full list of threatened libraries with map
Save Our Libraries Day
5th February 2011
As public unrest grew over the proposed library closures, a plethora of local campaigns, events and read-ins were planned. CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) has announced gave its support for Save Our Libraries Day, which took place on 5th February 2011, They said:
"We want everyone who cares about reading, literacy and libraries to use their public library on the 5th February and tell as many people as they can to do the same."
The CILIP website (see below) has a list of tips and ideas on how you can continue to get involved with helping to save our public libraries as well as reportage from the events that took place around the country for the special day.
Libraries held all manner of superb events, including mass "sit-in's" or "read-in's" where people joined together inside their local libraries to read books. Find out if there are any future events in your area by checking the links further down the page.
Let's get talking about Libraries!
Library Closures Spread to America
Sadly, the threat of library closures is spreading. Proposed budget cuts in America do not bode well for libraries there either. Find further information at the links below:
You don’t know the value of what you’re looking after. It is too precious to destroy.
Why Libraries Are Important
As a former School Library Manager, I know a thing or two about defending libraries. I have extolled the virtues of the library to kids who would rather play computer games all day. I have fought tooth and nail over budgets, and too much integration with technology, and battled against the rise of internet-based homework. I have waved exciting new books under the noses of reluctant readers and managed to sway them. So yes, I am passionate about libraries, and books, and reading.
Yes, I am a former librarian, and I'm biased. Yes, I am a writer, and a reader, and that still makes me biased. I am also white and middle class, the two things that the head of Museums, Libraries and Archives Council recently accused public library users of being.
But for every other person "like me" (the librarians, the readers, the authors, the white middle class), there are countless others. The working class, the ethnic minorities, the inner city kids, the mums with toddlers who want somewhere nice and friendly to take their kids, the elderly and the young alike, the folks with the slow computer or the 1 in 5 UK adults who don't have internet access at home.
What about them? Don't they care about libraries too? Of course they do.
The above quote is taken from Philip Pullman's recent speech against the library closures, and no truer words could have been spoken. Public libraries are the jewels in our communities, or at least they should be. In an ideal world, local government should be throwing money at libraries, not taking it away, let alone closing them down.
Because of the children discovering the joy and excitement of reading. Because of the thrill of finding out your local history or family tree hidden in the archives. Because of the students revising or the home educators tracking down resources. Because of the wealth of information available to you, for free, whether you want to learn a new skill or undergo serious research into an obscure subject. Because of the community spirit. Because of the books, and the stories therein, and the wonderful, wonderful thing that is reading.
I could list countless more ways, but I won't. I think Philip Pullman summed it all up pretty nicely.
I'll simply leave you with this thought - imagine a world without libraries. Imagine a world where you could only have access to books by having to buy them (and then find somewhere to put them). Imagine the scores of children who would lose out on the joy of reading because their parents can't afford to buy them any. Imagine the skills gone to waste and the hobbies never discovered because the resources just weren't available. Imagine the publishers and book sellers growing even richer because people had no choice other than to buy books, not borrow. Imagine the waste.
I'll close with the quote that I started with, courtesy of Katharine Hepburn.
"Where in the world would we be without our libraries?"
Where indeed. I don't want to think about it. Do you?
Are our Libraries Too Important to Lose?
Are our libraries too valuable to lose? Why?
What Can I Do?
* Get involved with your local libraries' events and campaigns
* Write to your local authority.
* Spread the word, locally, through social networking, blogs and more
* Sign petitions or set one up
* And most importantly of all, SUPPORT your local library! Take out books, use their services!
What do YOU make of all this? Are you horrified by the proposed closures of UK libraries? Indifferent? Not surprised?
If you're outside of the UK, are you experiencing this threat in your own country during the global economic crisis? If not, are you worried by this UK trend and do you think it will affect you in the future?