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Thousands turn out for Save our Libraries day

Read-ins, storytelling events, workshops and gigs were among the many protests across the country in a national day of action against library closures.

More than 100 protests were staged on Saturday, Save our Libraries Day, raising awareness about government cuts to the library service.

At Leeds Central Library, demonstrators showed their condemnation of plans to close libraries in the area by holding a read-in protest. The facility in Kirkstall, Leeds, has been marked for to go in the nationwide cull and Horsforth library is also under threat, among others across the region.

Sarah Bradley, a writer and music therapist, launched a Facebook campaign against the government measures and used the social networking site to organise the Leeds protest.

She told The Bookseller: “The plans to close libraries across the country is an exclusionary measure. Libraries gives people the chance to try out different authors and read different types of literature that they might not usually, which is so important to society.”

Another demonstrator, librarian Jess Haigh said libraries were a unique venue to educate people. She said: “I have seen some women my age who have never read a book in their lives start to read by coming to libraries, they must not close any, they are all so important.”

There was a busy protest at Blackheath Village Library in Lewisham, with the young and the elderly especially visible. There was a two-hour afternoon read-in, with around 50-60 people sitting listening to readings. Musicians Sly and Reggie played their "We Love Libraries" song outside, travelling between all five Lewisham libraries threatened with closure.

Protestors in New Cross, south east London, also staged a read-in protest. A group of around 40 people staged a "read-in", choosing to stay in the library overnight before leaving on the Sunday.

Protester James Holland told the BBC: "We need to save all public services and we don't need to cut any of them. I don't understand why people aren't looking at the genuine alternatives to fund public services and to getting the money from the people who can afford to pay it - that's exactly the answer."

Lauren Smith, spokewoman for Voices for the Library, said yesterday: "Local councils are having to make these decisions so quickly. Once a library is shut it will never reopen. When councils realise what they have done it will be too late."

Around 400 people in Beeston Library in Nottinghamshire took part in a mass borrow protest organised by Unison. Independent publisher Five Leaves held a 'read out', reading a number of book and library related pieces. Five Leaves' Ross Bradshaw said: "We had no idea how many people would turn up. It was a remarkable successful event which showed how much people value their local library. Following earlier protests Nottinghamshire County Council has put £400,000 back into the book fund and allowed another £70,000 for staffing costs of smaller libraries. Twenty eight of the smaller libraries were to have their opening hours cut by 75% and the response from the public means that 22 will now 'only' be cut by 50%. This is awful but means that those libraries will still be viable and shows the value of protesting."

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times reported yesterday that the company that helps run the Library of Congress in the United States has approached 50 library authorities to help rescue them from cuts. The Library Systems and Services (LSSI) claims councils are so inefficient that libraries could still run with more than a third cut from its costs. The LSSI proposes taking over the management of libraries while leaving ownership of books and buildings with councils. According to the paper, 12 library authorities are in serious talks with LSSI.

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"The truth is libraries are raucous clubhouses for free speech, controversy and community. Librarians have stood up to the Patriot Act, sat down with noisy toddlers, and reached out to illiterate adults. Libraries can never be shushed. If you haven't been to your library lately, you're overdue." - Paula Poundstone

"The truth is libraries are raucous clubhouses for free speech, controversy and community." - would it be too cynical to suggest that this is why the Government seems so eager to close them down?

LSSI have quite a reputation in the US and are now hovering like vultures over the UK library cuts!
An i quote their CEO, Frank A. Pezzanite
“A lot of libraries are atrocious,” Mr. Pezzanite said. “Their policies are all about job security. That’s why the profession is nervous about us. You can go to a library for 35 years and never have to do anything and then have your retirement. We’re not running our company that way. You come to us, you’re going to have to work.”
They also cut costs by using non-unionised labour!

As a former librarian who uses my local library I feel insulted that they (the local authority) persist in using notices in the library which say things like "customer information" to signpost their information desk. If librarians can be this illiterate then what hope is there for library services anyway?

The deliberate use, and it is deliberate, of incorrect terms by librarians in this manner, both in the library buildings and in the professional literature is no more than political correctness and demonstrates that librarians at the highest level are all too willing to cave in to the local politicians. As a result of this sort of thing I am coming round to the view that libraries might well be worth saving from the ConDem cuts programme, but the librarians themselves are not.
Another example is the use within the profession of "outsourcing" when what is really meant is privatisation; and senior librarians profess themselves proud to have been involved in such activities. Perhaps someone in authority at CILIP would like to comment?!!

I have no idead how the UK or English Public library system works over that side of that world, nor can I think of the most ridiculous, preposterous and ludicrous act of infidelity in aggravating the spirits of those who must be lurking amongst those shelves of fine lit written when knowing those stinge bags amongst either local shires, councils, government or even if those in the area of ROYALTY cannot fathom what they are going to be destroying when closing an ICON or institution such as a PUBLIC LIBRARY that is supposed to allow free borrowing of 'books', media products, (cds, videos, periodicals, dvd's, hear a books etc) which they do 'down under' here in Australia, and we here cannot certainly NOT live with these fantistic and excellently run modern places, partly funded by the STATE governements, FEDERAL goverments and LOCAL councils as well. (even though the people in the local council are the ones paying partly for the funding due to the Councils being stinges themselves)
I'm sure those writers in the past years and playwrights who have laid out so much in the areas for myself to learn from including now my children would be horrified to learn that a place like UNITED KINGDOM of places would do such a bullish and ridiculous foolish act indeed..OFF WITH YOUR HEAD's Local Council Members right now...

Frank
Whats wrong with "customer" anyway its all just semantics.
"all too willing to cave in to the local politicians" That will be our employers you are talking about then?? I'm afraid we call our services what our political masters tell us. We have no choice in the matter.
We can advice and suggest, but at the end of the day, they call the tune.

"The truth is libraries are raucous clubhouses for free speech, controversy and community. Librarians have stood up to the Patriot Act, sat down with noisy toddlers, and reached out to illiterate adults. Libraries can never be shushed. If you haven't been to your library lately, you're overdue." - Paula Poundstone

"The truth is libraries are raucous clubhouses for free speech, controversy and community." - would it be too cynical to suggest that this is why the Government seems so eager to close them down?

LSSI have quite a reputation in the US and are now hovering like vultures over the UK library cuts!
An i quote their CEO, Frank A. Pezzanite
“A lot of libraries are atrocious,” Mr. Pezzanite said. “Their policies are all about job security. That’s why the profession is nervous about us. You can go to a library for 35 years and never have to do anything and then have your retirement. We’re not running our company that way. You come to us, you’re going to have to work.”
They also cut costs by using non-unionised labour!

As a former librarian who uses my local library I feel insulted that they (the local authority) persist in using notices in the library which say things like "customer information" to signpost their information desk. If librarians can be this illiterate then what hope is there for library services anyway?

The deliberate use, and it is deliberate, of incorrect terms by librarians in this manner, both in the library buildings and in the professional literature is no more than political correctness and demonstrates that librarians at the highest level are all too willing to cave in to the local politicians. As a result of this sort of thing I am coming round to the view that libraries might well be worth saving from the ConDem cuts programme, but the librarians themselves are not.
Another example is the use within the profession of "outsourcing" when what is really meant is privatisation; and senior librarians profess themselves proud to have been involved in such activities. Perhaps someone in authority at CILIP would like to comment?!!

I have no idead how the UK or English Public library system works over that side of that world, nor can I think of the most ridiculous, preposterous and ludicrous act of infidelity in aggravating the spirits of those who must be lurking amongst those shelves of fine lit written when knowing those stinge bags amongst either local shires, councils, government or even if those in the area of ROYALTY cannot fathom what they are going to be destroying when closing an ICON or institution such as a PUBLIC LIBRARY that is supposed to allow free borrowing of 'books', media products, (cds, videos, periodicals, dvd's, hear a books etc) which they do 'down under' here in Australia, and we here cannot certainly NOT live with these fantistic and excellently run modern places, partly funded by the STATE governements, FEDERAL goverments and LOCAL councils as well. (even though the people in the local council are the ones paying partly for the funding due to the Councils being stinges themselves)
I'm sure those writers in the past years and playwrights who have laid out so much in the areas for myself to learn from including now my children would be horrified to learn that a place like UNITED KINGDOM of places would do such a bullish and ridiculous foolish act indeed..OFF WITH YOUR HEAD's Local Council Members right now...

Frank
Whats wrong with "customer" anyway its all just semantics.
"all too willing to cave in to the local politicians" That will be our employers you are talking about then?? I'm afraid we call our services what our political masters tell us. We have no choice in the matter.
We can advice and suggest, but at the end of the day, they call the tune.