Authors Alan Gibbons and Cathy Cassidy have drawn up a petition against Liverpool Council’s planned closure of 11 out of its 19 libraries.
Liverpool Council approved plans to close up to 11 libraries in August, hoping to save £2.5m. It will hold four consultation periods before making the final decision in November.
The petition currently has around 500 signatories, including famous Liverpudlians such as such as actor David Morrissey, screenwriter and producer Jimmy McGovern, and authors including Malorie Blackman, Caitlin Moran, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Barbara Taylor Bradford and David Nicholls.
“Cathy and I are having a last push to get the council to listen,” said Gibbons. “Liverpool has a lot of deprivation and we absolutely need to keep the libraries open. We met a lady recently whose daughter is disabled and if her library closes it will be a £30 round trip to another one. We hear stories like this all the time.”
Cassidy said closing the libraries would be a “massacre”, adding: “It will decimate the city and those who are least able to speak out against this are the ones who will suffer the most.” She added: “New figures state that one in three children in the UK do not own a book; closing eleven libraries ensures that they cannot borrow one, either.”
Anyone wishing to sign the petition can email Alan Gibbons at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cassidy has also written a “love letter” to Liverpool libraries to send to the city’s mayor, Joe Anderson, and is asking schools to do the same. All the letters will be used to get publicity for the project.
Cassidy’s letter in full:
Dear Mayor Anderson,
I grew up owning no books of my own, apart from an occasional Christmas annual... but I had a library card. I went weekly to my local libraries and they opened up a whole new world for me, of imagination, possibilities, learning, life; libraries changed my life and thanks to them I am now a children’s author myself.
For many ordinary people without a privileged background, libraries are education, opportunity and refuge; they are civilization, inspiration and magic all rolled into one. They also provide support to job seekers, advice, expertise, access to computers and internet for those who have none. In times of austerity, all of these things are needed more than ever.
New figures tell us that one in three children in the UK in 2014 do not own a book of their own. Can Liverpool really mean to deny those children the chance to borrow a book, too? Liverpool is being promoted as a ‘City of Reading’ and yet what message can the closure of eleven libraries send to the children you hope to switch on to reading? Please, please, think again. Libraries are essential for a healthy community. They are needed by young families, schoolchildren and students; the unemployed, the elderly the disabled... we all need libraries at different points in our lives. Take them away and people will suffer... communities will suffer too.
Liverpool has always been a ‘City of Culture’, long before it earned the title officially. The city’s creativity and talent grows from the grassroots up, via the kind of education only a library can offer. Mayor Anderson, we understand that you are between a rock and a hard place with cuts imposed from above; but please, please, think again. Closing eleven much-loved and well-used local libraries is little short of a massacre.
There has to be another way. Please, Mayor Anderson, don’t let yourself be remembered as the man who closed the libraries; be instead the man who finds a way to save them. These libraries matter; wecannot stay silent and watch them close forever.