Blackman: 'ringfence library budgets'

Blackman: 'ringfence library budgets'

Children's laureate Malorie Blackman has urged library spending to be ringfenced by councils, to prevent even more closures around the country.

The Noughts & Crosses author also condemned libraries minister Ed Vaizey for failing to react to a succession of library closures.

Writing in the Guardian, Blackman said: "In August, when there was a danger of Jane Austen's ring leaving the country, the culture minister Ed Vaizey was quick to intervene with a temporary export bar as the ring is deemed to be a "national treasure" that should be "saved for the nation". I would argue that our public libraries are just as much of a national treasure as Jane Austen's ring and yet I have seen no such outrage from Vaizey at their closure."

She added that there is: "surely a strong argument for library services, and in particular children's library services, to be ringfenced against such cuts", and cited figures from Public Library News which show more than 105 libraries in the UK have been closed or left local authority control since April 2012.

Blackman said: "Libraries switch children on to a love of reading, with all the ensuing benefits, and can make them lifelong readers. Without them, literacy may increasingly become the province of the lucky few, rather than the birthright of everyone."

On 21st September, CILIP, the Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals, voted to pass a motion of no confidence in Ed Vaizey, in response to the Government's failure to intervene in any library closures.