Hundreds of thousands join library protests

The nation is gearing up for the first Save Our Libraries day on Saturday (5th February), with around 80 events planned around the UK and “hundreds of thousands” of supporters thought to be backing the cause.

Authors Philip Pullman, Kate Mosse, G P Taylor, Julia Donaldson and Mary Hoffman will be among the authors ­taking part. In Gloucestershire, where events are being held in 11 libraries, a group of authors and poets will carry out a “flying authors” tour travelling by plane. At Sydenham library in London, 26 balloons will be released, each bearing a letter of the alphabet to symbolise how libraries contribute to the literacy of the country. Meanwhile, in Scotland, an author group led by Julia Donaldson will deliver a statement of protest to the Scottish parliament.

Active social networking on Facebook and Twitter from librarian group Voices for the Library, the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals and The Bookseller’s own Fight for Libraries campaign, which now has 3,000 followers, is spreading awareness. Supporters are being urged to take part in protest events, tweet on hashtag #savelibraries, or join or visit their local library on 5th February and take out their full allowance of books.

Some library supporter numbers can be gauged by the quantities of people signing paper petitions: 18,500 in Somerset, 13,000 in Dorset, 1,200 In Brighton, 20,000 in Lewisham, 15,000 in Gloucestershire and 2,500 for Stony Stratford library alone. Many more are participating online. Leading campaigner Desmond Clarke estimated “hundreds of thousands” were now behind the cause.

On Wednesday (2nd February), Somerset campaigners held a flash mob at the British Library in Euston, beaming their self-produced “We Love Libraries” film, with contributions from Glastonbury ­founder Michael Eavis and John Bird of the Big Issue, onto the walls of the building.