Library campaigners are planning more regional demonstrations after the success of the national libraries demonstration which took place on Saturday (5th November).
Children’s author Alan Gibbons, who helped organise the event, said that campaigners are now seeking meeting with culture ministers and are "actively discussing" a series of regional demonstrations to "further raise consciousness among the public of the havoc wrought by the failed ‘austerity agenda'." Gibbons added: "The North West region is taking responsibility for staging the first such march and is scheduled for Warrington in the New Year. As speaker after speaker insisted, this was a qualitative gear shift in campaigning.”
Saturday's march saw an estimated crowd of 2,500 people - including authors Francesca Simon, Cathy Cassidy, Meg Rosoff, Chris Riddell and Michael Rosen - take to the streets to protest the "cultural vandalism" of the widespread closures of libraries across the country. Also in attendence were Kit Caless and Gary Budden of independent publisher Influx Press.
However Simon tweeted criticising the absence of "adult" authors: “’Adult’ authors rather conspicuous by the absence at today’s demo march to #SaveOurLibraries while children’s writers out in force," she noted.
Co-director Caless told The Bookseller that attending the march was an "important statement of support". "Libraries are one of the crucial public services", he said. "They increase literacy, they create generations of new readers, they are a safe, secure environment for many vulnerable people. Influx Press attended the demonstration because we believe that declaring your support for increased public investment in libraries shouldn't end with social media virtue signalling. Bothering to get up early on a Saturday morning to attend a rally is an important statement of support and literally want to stand side by side with librarians.
Influx repping libraries at the national demo to support public culture pic.twitter.com/yIWUatn3cB— Influx Press (@Influxpress) November 5, 2016
Caless added: "I think the whole of the publishing industry has a clear vested interest in keeping our public libraries open and well looked after. The readers of tomorrow are created in today's libraries, libraries create your next customers. I was disappointed that there wasn't a more visible sign that the big publishers were there. If I was m.d. at Harper I would make it a company away day. Imagine, all of the staff from the top publishers out on the demonstration! Great for staff bonding, you'd mingle with your readers and librarians, then everyone goes to the pub and has a grand old time.
"The closures are a tragedy of our modern age, and symptomatic of the current direction this country is going in. If we are serious about 'diversity' in publishing, we must be serious about libraries, since they are used by everyone but are a vital literary lifeline to more marginalised communities. Less chat, more action, as always."