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In it together

It’s February now, but the song remains the same—the attack on our national library services, the lunacy of short-term financial decisions being taken without thought to the long-term cultural consequences.

Has anything changed since December? Actually yes—quite a lot. Although the situation is perilous still, we have seen a staggering, inspiring, imaginative upsurge of local protest, a nationwide refusal to lie back and allow the politicians to do their worst. January was a busy month. In the Lord Louis library on the Isle of Wight, readers lined up to withdraw their full quotas of books a-piece, leaving the shelves bare.

In Somerset, film-maker Ken Kutsch gathered writers and broadcasters—Maureen Duffy, Romesh Gunesekera, Maggie Gee, John Bird, Jon Snow, Julian Fellowes, Alan Bennett among them—to protest against the savagery of the cuts. In Oxford, Philip Pullman delivered a fighting speech to a Town Hall packed to the rafters—and more than 20,000 others read the speech online.

The children’s novelist Alan Gibbons, founder of the Campaign for the Book, called a day of action on 5th February, a celebration of reading or, as it was billed in Oxfordshire, facing some of the worst cuts, “A Carnival of Resistance”. And though possibly inappropriate to sing the praises of The Bookseller—in, er, a column in The Bookseller—the fight for libraries campaign and blogs have been invaluable in giving publicity—the life-blood of any campaign—as well as providing a comprehensive digest of action planned and action delivered. Facts, figures and everything in between.
But, for all that has been achieved, the next few weeks are the most crucial. During February, most LEA consultation periods come to an end and council budgets for the year ahead will be finalised. The Libraries Minister Ed Vaizey rejected calls for a national library enquiry, but has said he will look at each potential closure on a case-by-case basis if required to do so.

This is the time to write to the DCMS or to the local council. And the more of us who join marches, strength in visible numbers, the more likely is it that other councils will join those of the Wirral, Portsmouth and Somerset in reconsidering or revising their proposals for cuts to library and mobile services. UK libraries are the envy of the world. We won’t let them go without a fight.

In March, I’m one of those addressing the All-Party Publishing Group at the House of Commons. It would be wonderful to be able to report that, together, we had made the politicians listen. To say that all the campaigning, filming, writing and speaking had made a substantial difference.

 

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Please note that we now require Ed Vaizey to look at each potential closure "on a case-by-case basis" and if he considers any closure justified to state publicly why it should (in his opinion) be closed.
Government ministers are being vociferous in their silence.

It is no longer possible for them to maintain silence and pretend that the closures are nothing to do with them, they have a legal reponsibility - or is their failure to act, or even speak a sign that their expensive ministerial roles are ripe for replacement by volunteers?

Martyn

I commented to "The Independent" that I couldn't remember being without books during the second world war when Hitler was using them for bonfires in Germany, but then that wasn't a real national crisis.
Pete Parkins

Whilst i have every sympathy for this cause, like every deserving case - hospitals, schools, the disadvantaged, those who work in the public sector, we cannot escape the fact that the UK is BANKRUPT.

It may not be paletable to read or experience but the last government junked our money and our future, and the government has got to reduce its expenditure.

Whilst i have every sympathy for this cause, like every deserving case - hospitals, schools, the disadvantaged, those who work in the public sector, we cannot escape the fact that the UK is BANKRUPT.

It may not be paletable to read or experience but the last government junked our money and our future, and the government has got to reduce its expenditure.

I'm sure you are already aware of it but I thought I's mention this anyway as you reminded me of it. When Churchill was asked to cut Arts funding during the war his response was: 'Then what are we fighting for?'

Please note that we now require Ed Vaizey to look at each potential closure "on a case-by-case basis" and if he considers any closure justified to state publicly why it should (in his opinion) be closed.
Government ministers are being vociferous in their silence.

It is no longer possible for them to maintain silence and pretend that the closures are nothing to do with them, they have a legal reponsibility - or is their failure to act, or even speak a sign that their expensive ministerial roles are ripe for replacement by volunteers?

Martyn

I commented to "The Independent" that I couldn't remember being without books during the second world war when Hitler was using them for bonfires in Germany, but then that wasn't a real national crisis.
Pete Parkins

I'm sure you are already aware of it but I thought I's mention this anyway as you reminded me of it. When Churchill was asked to cut Arts funding during the war his response was: 'Then what are we fighting for?'

Whilst i have every sympathy for this cause, like every deserving case - hospitals, schools, the disadvantaged, those who work in the public sector, we cannot escape the fact that the UK is BANKRUPT.

It may not be paletable to read or experience but the last government junked our money and our future, and the government has got to reduce its expenditure.

Whilst i have every sympathy for this cause, like every deserving case - hospitals, schools, the disadvantaged, those who work in the public sector, we cannot escape the fact that the UK is BANKRUPT.

It may not be paletable to read or experience but the last government junked our money and our future, and the government has got to reduce its expenditure.