Library and information association CILIP is encouraging candidates to champion libraries ahead of the local elections taking place in England this May.
In his letter to candidates, CILIP president Ayub Khan emphasised the communal nature of libraries, as well as the range of facilities they offer.
“Public libraries have transformed in recent years to become a true ‘hub’ at the heart of their communities", said Khan. "They offer opening hours to suit local needs, high-quality internet and wifi access, business and enterprise support, local information and digital skills along with a huge range of events and activities that add richness to the lives of local residents.”
At a recent meeting with CILIP, libraries minister Michael Ellis MP supported the drive to encourage candidates to think about the value of libraries across a range of government agendas, and the importance with which they’re held by communities.
The letter includes details about the popularity and use of public libraries, including information about the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act, and the fact that there were over 250m visits to public libraries in 2015-16 in Great Britain.
A campaign hub on the CILIP website has details about how to get involved in the campaign, including a guide to convincing candidates to support the initiative using #LibrariesMatter hashtag on social media.
The elections will take place on 3rd May and parties are starting to release their manifestos.
The Labour Party in Croydon has released its full manifesto, listing the desire to "protect front-line services by bringing libraries back into public ownership" as its fifth priority. When asked why libraries ranked so highly in the manifesto, party leader Tony Newman said: ”Libraries are vital community hubs. They are also facilities where a local budget devolved to residents could be introduced so people can have more say in which facilities are on offer at their library.”
Meanwhile in Kirklees, the Labour party has pledged to build a £45m "cultural quarter" in the Huddersfield town centre, which will include investment in the library and art gallery.