Library campaigns on the rise, Vaizey is dubbed 'Evaisive"

Library campaigns on the rise, Vaizey is dubbed 'Evaisive"

<p>A countrywide web of protest about library cuts continued this weekend, as a day of action was planned for 5th February. The tag #savelibraries was one of the top trending topics on Twitter over the weekend, as campaigners mobilised and the press soaked it up. Both Tory culture minister Ed Vaizey and MLA chief executive Roy Clare got caught up in the media maelstrom with Vaizey claiming to &quot;very active&quot; in defending libraries, and Clare threatening the <em>Daily Mail</em> over a report that claimed he&#39;d dismissed libraries as the preserve of the middle-classes.</p><p>The <em>Independent on Sunday </em>covered the wider debate, pointing out that more than 400 libraries face the axe as councils try to make the government demands for &pound;6.5bn of savings over two years. The newspaper points out that the proposed cuts seem likely disproportionately to affect deprived areas. &quot;In Oxfordshire, for example, the county council intends to close the Blackbird Leys library, serving a large and disadvantaged housing estate, while the libraries in neighbouring Witney and Wantage, used by constituents of the Prime Minister and Ed Vaizey, the Libraries minister, are safe.&quot;</p><p>Vaizey hit back at accusations that he has become &ldquo;impotent&rdquo; in the campaign. He told the newspaper that he had been &ldquo;very active&rdquo;, and while he rejected calls for an inquiry into the closures said every council decision would be checked to ensure statutory obligations were still met. According to Public Libraries News, the word &quot;Evaisive&quot; has been coined to describe the minister&#39;s office&#39;s response to protesting correspondence.&nbsp; And campaigner Desmond Clarke told the paper: &quot;There is a leadership void at a time of major crisis. We need someone more senior than Ed Vaizey to intervene immediately as the wave of rebellion among people in towns and communities is growing. The impact on local communities will be devastating, the savings relatively small.&quot;</p><p>The MLA has also hit back, after a <em>Daily Mail</em> report suggested that its chief executive Roy Clare had said that libraries were &quot;<a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1347314/Libraries-privileged-whi... target="_blank" title="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1347314/Libraries-privileged-whi... for the privileged white middle class</a>&quot;. Under the subject line &quot;Libraries are for everyone&quot;, the MLA said it was making a formal complaint to the editor of the<em> Daily Mail,</em> after it ran an &quot;inaccurate, misleading, distorted and defamatory account of the views of its chief executive, Roy Clare&quot;. Contrary to the report, the MLA and its chief executive Roy Clare has a record of advocating the benefits of library services serving the needs of the whole population, the MLA said.</p><p>Library users in boroughs including Oxfordshire, Lewisham, Doncaster, Somerset and Gloucestershire have sought legal advice about challenging local closures. But a DCMS spokeswoman told the <em>IoS</em>: &quot;Legal challenges mounted against local authorities are a matter for the interested parties and the courts and outside the jurisdiction of the Secretary of State . . . It is premature to consider intervention at such a stage.&quot;</p><p>The <em>East Anglian Daily Times </em><a href="http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/suffolk_protest_over_looming_cuts_for_librari... target="_blank">reports</a> that more than 75 adults and children held a demonstration outside Ipswich Country Library, while the <em>Independent</em> also <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/news/library-empti... target="_blank">reports </a>that users of Stony Stratford&rsquo;s library protested against impending closure with a campaign to check out every book from its shelves. Further coverage included a discussion on BBC Radio 4 News and &quot;Any Questions&quot;. </p><p>Annie Mauger, chief executive of Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (Cilip), said: &quot;This is not just about what libraries do, it is about what they represent: free access to knowledge and information for everyone. It feels Orwellian that we&#39;ll wake up one day and a third of all the libraries are gone. Is that the type of society we want?&quot; </p><p><br /> <br /><br /><br /><br /> </p>