15 Feb 2011

Lobby re libraries tomorrow

The Friends of Gloucestershire website has loads on it that is worth looking at - Marcus Moore emails councillors to see if they will be working in libraries - see here. See satirical film re library cuts (incls swearing) here. See here a piece re a the Bucks volunteer service doubting GCC's plan will work. See here a letter from 6 ex-senior library staff about how libraries will hit children and here a letter re impact on older people.

Photo: Nailsworth library threatened by cuts

Tomorrow there will be a lobby outside Shire Hall Westgate Street Gloucester on Wednesday 16th February from 9.00am. See last nights 'farce' at scrutiny here.

The County Council will make the final decisions on their swingeing cuts. The recent concessions made regarding library plans (see my comments here) are a mere sop which fail to address the fundamental iniquity of no services in our most deprived areas. As the Library campaign write: "Other services will be equally hit – Trading Standards cuts will threaten public safety, Youth Service cuts will deprive our young people of much needed support and Day Centre cuts will leave many of our vulnerable elderly isolated. This is to name but a few - So much for Hawthorne’s mantra of ‘protecting the most vulnerable’. Show them what you think and show them we all intend to keep campaigning against these damaging cuts. Let them know we have no intention of going away!"
Letter to Hunt and Vaizey

Meanwhile I've added my name to a message from Alan Gibbons of Campaign for the Book - the instigator of the national day of action on the 5th February. See below:

Dear Mr Hunt and Mr Vaizey,

Speaking to the Oxford Mail this week, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, the MP for Wantage, said: “People have to come with ideas. They have to look at different options.”

People the length and breadth of the UK have come up with ideas. They have discussed options. Between five and ten thousand people have rallied round their libraries. Hundreds of thousands of people have signed petitions. Well-known figures such as Philip Pullman, Lesley Garrett, Phil Jupitus, Tony Christie, Brian Blessed and Billy Bragg have added their voices to the call for a change of heart. At one hundred Read-ins communities, librarians, user groups and librarians have demonstrated in creative, fun ways just how much their libraries mean to them.

This is a grassroots movement. We hoped for a dozen events, but local people took up the call and made it something refreshing, urgent, local and liberating. They have put out a positive message: our libraries, our communities, our right to have a say over their future.

As a consequence of the Comprehensive Spending Review 400 libraries are under threat. Compare this with the situation in South Korea where 180 new libraries are being built. South Korea is top of the PISA international rankings for competence in reading. In ten years the UK has fallen from seventh to twenty-fifth. This is no time to cut libraries.

We call on you to heed the view of the people. Libraries are a vital part of local communities. The National Literacy Trust has given evidence that visiting a library makes you twice as likely to be a good reader, the very foundation stone of academic and social achievement. We, the undersigned appeal to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to call a moratorium on library closures now and convene a seminar involving all the major representatives of library users and librarians’ organizations. We have the ideas, Mr Vaizey. From government we need the will to explore them fully and without prejudice.

Yours faithfully,

Alan Gibbons, Organiser of the Campaign for the Book and the following signatories:
"In times of economic duress, the library, free and open to all, where thinking can be done, where plans can be hatched, becomes an essential service, the equivalent to the mind of what the hospital is to the body. If a people had the anatomy of a single human figure, than the public library would be the brains of that figure, the place where thoughts, memories and hopes are stored, the place where laughter and new ideas came from. To cut a library system down to its bare bones is then the equivalent of a lobotomy." Award winning, internationally acclaimed, best-selling author Yann Martel (his second novel, ‘Life of Pi’ won the Man Booker Prize in 2002)

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