A host of writers and artists, including crime writer Ann Cleeves, poet Roger McGough and author/illustrator Nick Sharratt, will join local library communities in a week of special activities leading up to National Libraries Day (NLD) on Saturday 6th February.
Meanwhile, writers including Jake Arnott and Cathy Cassidy have signed up for the Speak Up For Libraries (SUFL) lobby of Parliament on Tuesday 9th February.
Now in its fifth year, the annual National Libraries Day celebration highlights the "importance of libraries as vitally important public services which are loved by individuals and communities everywhere." Special events taking place in libraries this year include talks by authors Erwin James, Bruce Fogle, Nicola Cornick, Tom McCarthy, Paul Gill, Simon Brett, Roger McGough and Nick Sharratt; and a library residency by the artist Jackie Morris.
“Libraries matter," said Cleeves, who has the role of NLD "ambassador" for 2016. "If we believe in equality of opportunity we must fight not just for the buildings but for the range of books inside and the skilled staff who can promote reading in all its forms. Not only do libraries encourage us to be more tolerant and better informed, they contribute enormously to the wealth of the nation."
Celebrating four decades of working with libraries in its 40th anniversary year, children’s publisher Andersen Press will open a special competition for public and school libraries on 6th February, based on David McKee’s children’s book character, Elmer the patchwork elephant.
Andersen publisher Klaus Flugge said: “Andersen Press has a long history of working closely with libraries and we value the important work done by our dear librarians. We want to continue to support the libraries in our 40th anniversary year and beyond!”
After celebrating the nations libraries, on Tuesday 9th February the Speak Up For Libraries coalition will "descend on the Commons" to lobby MPs to focus on the "root cause of libraries' grim situation - apathy and ignorance in local and central government."
The parliamentary lobby will begin with a public rally at Central Hall, Westminster, with a line-up of speakers including children's writers Cathy Cassidy and John Dougherty, chaired by campaigning author Alan Gibbons.
Cassidy said that without libraries, she would never have had access to books as a child and then "never had stood a chance of following [her] dreams."
She added: "Now our public libraries are being closed all around us; it's a national scandal, and we must stand together against these closures, for the sake of our children and the future of our country."
On the day, the MPs will be lobbied to sign the Early Day Motion supporting libraries, acknowledge the importance of public libraries, call on the government to do its job by producing statutory guidance, and call on local authorities to ensure adequate funding for libraries.
National Libraries Day and the SUFL parliamentary lobby come after many councils have revealed plans for severe reductions to their library services while reviewing their budgets, including the closure of Chipping Sodbury Library in South Gloucestershire and Alcester Library in Warwickshire
The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals' My Library By Right campaign also intends hold the goverment to account over its legal responsibilites and call on local authorities to put all changes to library services on hold or risk breaching the law.