Poet to petition Sadiq Khan over library closures

Poet to petition Sadiq Khan over library closures

South London poet Chrissie Gittins is to petition London Mayor Sadiq Khan (pictured) about the future of Lewisham's library services.

Gittins, who is Lewisham’s first honorary writer in residence, is calling on the mayor to pledge his support to campaigners fighting to keep Forest Hill, Manor House, Catford and Torridon libraries from being turned into community-run centres.

She intends to hand Khan a copy of her latest book - Between Here And Knitwear - at City Hall next week as it contains a passage which highlights the importance of libraries.

Gittins told the South London Press: “To lose five of our borough’s libraries in 2011 was bad enough, but now to lose another three is extremely disturbing and devastating. If I had not had access to a library when I was growing up I would never have become a writer. It opened up a whole world to me and is a vital resource that we should not be losing.

“I want Sadiq to know this and so I am giving him a copy of my latest book because there is a passage in it which highlights just how important libraries are and which I want him to read. We have a march and a rally on Saturday (21st May) to which we want Sadiq to attend to show his support and to highlight the importance of a library to a community.”

The march will start at noon at Lewisham Library in Lewisham High Street.

The council says it has to make budget cuts of £45m over the next two years and closing the libraries and cutting staff would save around £1m.

Meanwhile, a campaign has been launched against plans to close four libraries and two mobile book-lending services in North Lanarkshire in order to make £400,000 worth of savings.

Scottish writer, columnist and playwright Damian Barr has created a petition protesting the decision. He said: “I have an emotional connection to the library but the argument to keep it open is very practical - people use it, it is part of the community." 

The petition has been backed by over 730 people including Ian Rankin and Val McDermid who have both previously spoken out against library closures.