JK Rowling's endorsement of a petition fighting to protect libraries by ringfencing government funding has prompted an additional 10,000 signatures to be added in just four days. Other prominent authors who have added their voices in support include Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman, Malorie Blackman and Joanne Harris.
The bestselling Harry Potter author pledged her support, sharing a link to the petition with her Twitter followers, over the weekend on 27th October. On the social media platform, she urged: "We need more signatures to protect government funding for libraries!"
The petition, launched earlier this month by Frances Belbin, puts responsibility for library closures at the government's door and describes the solution of volunteer-run library services as "unsustainable long-term". The solution, it asserts, it that the government "must ringfence funding to ensure councils can fulfil their statutory duty to keep libraries services available to the general public".
Currently at over 21,000 signatures and continuing to gain traction, the Government will now have to respond to the petition. According to the petition webpage, organisers are expecting a response within the next three days. Should it garner more than 100,000 signatures before 24th March next year, the petition would have to be considered for debate in Parliament.
Library campaigner Ian Anstice called the escalation in support spurred on by the bestselling writers "a dream" and said it gave libraries hope.
"On Thursday, it looked like the petition would not reach 8,000 but due to the support of many people commenting on how important libraries are and retweeting, it hit the magic 10,000 - where the government needs to respond - on Saturday lunchtime and is now at a respectable 15,401 and going up at a couple per minute when checked. Notable supporters include - squee! - JK Rowlling, Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman, Malorie Blackman, Joanne Harris and Frank Cottrell Boyce and a ton of other authors," he said.
"Thank you to Frances Belbin for starting the petition and to everyone who has taken part. It's not over yet: the petition stays on the books until 24 March 2019 and if it hits 100,000 then it needs to be debated in parliament. It's a dream. None of us are foolish enough I think to believe this will change government policy but it keeps the pressure up, means every one of us can do something and keep the snowball rolling. And it gives help. Sign now if you haven't already - it takes 30 seconds and you need to confirm your email address - and tell others. It will give you, and libraries, hope. and the government a reason to think about libraries. I understand it is already helping in conversations with them."
In full the petition reads: "Libraries across the country are being closed, cut back and/or outsourced to volunteers as a result of government cuts to local authority budgets. Councils are unable to keep staffed library services open when faced with the competing demands of social care, child protection etc. Local libraries are a vital resource for the promotion of reading, literature and culture. They are a necessity for the digitally excluded who need to go online to access benefits, health, education and employment resources. While the commitment of volunteers is welcomed, volunteer-run library services are unsustainable long-term. The government must ringfence funding to ensure councils can fulfil their statutory duty to keep libraries services available to the general public."