Authors including Patrick Ness, Kate Mosse, Simon Singh, Mary Hoffman and Katherine Langrish, comedians Chris Addison and Marcus Brigstocke, library users, librarians and book trade professionals have all joined campaigners in signing up to a joint open letter urging culture minister Ed Vaizey to intervene over library closures.
The letter, posted on the site of Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries campaign group has already been widely endorsed by campaign groups including Campaign for the Book. It has been circulated widely on social networking site Twitter today, leading to a swift response from the authors.
The letter tells the minister that "countless" library users from all over the country have written to him over their concerns over library closures during the past year and asked for his intervention. But his inaction on the issue has left them forced to fight "long, stressful and costly legal battles" which would not have been necessary had he and his department "fulfilled their duty to superintend".
The letter concludes: "It is time to act Mr Vaizey. Those who rely on public libraries across the country, including some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of our communities, need your support and firm reassurance that you will superintend in line with your responsibilities as secretary of state."
Jo McCrum, secretary of the Children's Writers and Illustrators Group of the Society of Authors, added her own comment to the letter, saying: "Libraries are, and should remain at, the heart of each community. They provide essential services for all, but particularly for children, elderly and unemployed, and should be supported—not undermined. Along with theatres, museums and galleries libraries preserve, inform and develop our cultural
heritage. How can we become a literate, intelligent and productive nation without this shared resource?"
Katherine Langrish wrote: "Free access not only to books themselves but to the informed advice about books (such as what to read next, suggestions about which books a child might cope with at various ages, how to use a catalogue, where to find further information, etc) which a trained librarian can provide, seems to me such a basic necessity for a country which hopes to promote literacy, that I can hardly believe we are having to argue for it."