Speak up for libraries
IN APRIL 2011 London Freelance Branch passed a motion arguing that libraries are more than mere collection of books, and provide computer and internet access to the public, offer students quiet spaces for their homework and jobseekers a place to pursue employment. Increasingly, they furnish a workplace for freelances.
Forty per cent of the adult population borrow books from public libraries and eighty percent think they are are important; children's loans are on the increase. Of the 4612 libraries in the United Kingdom, an estimated 10 per cent have closed in the past two years, or hover under threat of closure. A coalition called Speak Up for Libraries is leading a lobby of Parliament on Monday 13 March: for more see www.speakupforlibraries.org
The organisers have called a rally from midday to 2pm at Westminster Central Hall, on Storey's Gate. The rally is chaired by children's author and Blue Peter Book Award recipient Alan Gibbons, who has collected upwards of 1100 signatures to his open letter against library closures, addressed to the responsible secretary of state and minister.
Author, books broadcaster, and Orange Prize co-founder Kate Mosse will speak alongside Daniel Jarvis MBE, the shadow culture secretary and a former officer in the Parachute Regiment. Participants are then encouraged to proceed together afterwards to the Central Lobby of Parliament to register their support for threatened public libraries to their Members.
The Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport took evidence on library closures in February, much of it available online. The public libraries campaign has a Twitter account at @speakup4libs and a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SpeakUpForLibraries, and they hope those who cannot attend on 13 March will write to their Members of Parliament in support.