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Donaldson puts libraries centre stage

New Waterstone's children's laureate Julia Donaldson has vowed to make libraries one of the areas she concentrates on during her two years in the role.

"I care very much about libraries and I'm looking for more opportunities to speak out against the cuts and closures I see as so damaging to our children's future," she told her audience at this morning's announcement ceremony in King's Place, London, to a burst of applause.

Donaldson said she would be visiting Whithorn library in Galloway, a 100-year-old institution now under threat of closure, in 10 days' time, and that she hoped to do a "libraries tour", incorporating her love of drama to ask classes to perform for her in library settings.

Earlier, culture minister Ed Vaizey, also speaking at the laureate ceremony, repeated his claim that the Department of Culture, Media and Sport took its duty to superintend libraries "very seriously".

Vaizey said that though newspapers concentrated on the problem areas, there were "fantastic" library authorities up and down the country. He added that where there were problems, "we engage with those local authorities on a daily basis but tend to do it behind closed doors".

The failure of the DCMS to intervene and order a local inquiry into library closures in hotspots such as Somerset, Gloucestershire and Lewisham has been a source of anger among campaigners, and Vaizey's comments also drew criticism from some members of the laureateship audience.

Penguin children's m.d. Francesca Dow, attending the ceremony as chair of the Publishers Association's Children's Book Group, commented: "He needs to take responsibility for his role. It's not good enough to come to a room full of children's experts and have a woolly line on libraries. It's not endearing."

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Brent Council is pressing ahead with plans to axe 50% of its libraries in spite of overwhelming opposition from over 82% of respondents to its own Transformation of Libraries consultation document: which it placed in libraries.

The six threatened libraries have formed S.O.S libraries : Save Our Six libraries and are actively campaigning for the Secretary of State to call the project in for judicial review.

6000 people signed the petition against the closure of one of these libraries alone: the Council has dismissed this as they have the result noted above as simply being the view of 'people who live near the libraries scheduled for closure'; they have refused to meet children under ten bearing 200 letters pleading with councillors not to close their local library. Children of that age group have addressed full meetings of the Executive, to no avail.

The councillor responsible for Culture has mocked proposals for volunteering and other ways to assist in these difficult times with the words 'another zombie idea to "save the libraries". The councillor responsible for the elderly has cried 'tell them to take Dial-A-Ride' when asked to consider the plight of elders who will no longer have a local library.

I thank the Children's Laureate for her committment to libraries and ask people to kindly look at the S.O.S websites:

among them: brentlibraries.wordpress.co.uk

If Ed Vaizey is making such fatuous comments while Lewisham is closing a library in a needy area in New Cross, having also demanded £30,000 rent for the same building from those in the community willing to try and run a library, he really does need advice from his aide, or anyone for that matter.
All sorts of issues have not been properly dealt with, procedures not followed etc, in Lewisham while setting up community libraries! His Sir Humphreys are certainly aware, as we keep telling them!
And what exactly does he mean "behind closed doors?" Is that another parliamentary law he missed on the day? It is called the Freedom of Information Act. Maybe we peasants are deemed not to be "in on the Act!"
Patricia Richardson

If Ed Vaizey is making such fatuous comments while Lewisham is closing a library in a needy area in New Cross, having also demanded £30,000 rent for the same building from those in the community willing to try and run a library, he really does need advice from his aide, or anyone for that matter.
All sorts of issues have not been properly dealt with, procedures not followed etc, in Lewisham while setting up community libraries! His Sir Humphreys are certainly aware, as we keep telling them!
And what exactly does he mean "behind closed doors?" Is that another parliamentary law he missed on the day? It is called the Freedom of Information Act. Maybe we peasants are deemed not to be "in on the Act!"
Patricia Richardson

The London Borough of Waltham Forest has a library Review, in which 2 libraries are set for closure and several smaller libraries on part time hours.
Julia could help in urging the public to become involved in the consultation for these things. The public reaction needs to be heard in the consultation process.

Brent Council is pressing ahead with plans to axe 50% of its libraries in spite of overwhelming opposition from over 82% of respondents to its own Transformation of Libraries consultation document: which it placed in libraries.

The six threatened libraries have formed S.O.S libraries : Save Our Six libraries and are actively campaigning for the Secretary of State to call the project in for judicial review.

6000 people signed the petition against the closure of one of these libraries alone: the Council has dismissed this as they have the result noted above as simply being the view of 'people who live near the libraries scheduled for closure'; they have refused to meet children under ten bearing 200 letters pleading with councillors not to close their local library. Children of that age group have addressed full meetings of the Executive, to no avail.

The councillor responsible for Culture has mocked proposals for volunteering and other ways to assist in these difficult times with the words 'another zombie idea to "save the libraries". The councillor responsible for the elderly has cried 'tell them to take Dial-A-Ride' when asked to consider the plight of elders who will no longer have a local library.

I thank the Children's Laureate for her committment to libraries and ask people to kindly look at the S.O.S websites:

among them: brentlibraries.wordpress.co.uk

If Ed Vaizey is making such fatuous comments while Lewisham is closing a library in a needy area in New Cross, having also demanded £30,000 rent for the same building from those in the community willing to try and run a library, he really does need advice from his aide, or anyone for that matter.
All sorts of issues have not been properly dealt with, procedures not followed etc, in Lewisham while setting up community libraries! His Sir Humphreys are certainly aware, as we keep telling them!
And what exactly does he mean "behind closed doors?" Is that another parliamentary law he missed on the day? It is called the Freedom of Information Act. Maybe we peasants are deemed not to be "in on the Act!"
Patricia Richardson

If Ed Vaizey is making such fatuous comments while Lewisham is closing a library in a needy area in New Cross, having also demanded £30,000 rent for the same building from those in the community willing to try and run a library, he really does need advice from his aide, or anyone for that matter.
All sorts of issues have not been properly dealt with, procedures not followed etc, in Lewisham while setting up community libraries! His Sir Humphreys are certainly aware, as we keep telling them!
And what exactly does he mean "behind closed doors?" Is that another parliamentary law he missed on the day? It is called the Freedom of Information Act. Maybe we peasants are deemed not to be "in on the Act!"
Patricia Richardson

The London Borough of Waltham Forest has a library Review, in which 2 libraries are set for closure and several smaller libraries on part time hours.
Julia could help in urging the public to become involved in the consultation for these things. The public reaction needs to be heard in the consultation process.