My school library rescued me. It gave me companionship at a lonely time in my life. And it transformed my future.
Reading the dismissive comments left by readers on Catherine Bennett's piece about library closures in the Guardian made me sick to my stomach.
There is another discussion to be had about how libraries should change because times certainly are a-changing. But close them down? "They might as well start book burning," writes Bryony Pearce, author of Incarnation.
If you care about libraries, join The Campaign for the Book founded and led by author Alan Gibbons.
If you blog, blog about libraries. Make a fuss. Name names. Here are a few:
Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP - Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport
John Penrose MP - Minister for Tourism and Heritage
Hugh Robertson MP - Minister for Sport and the Olympics
Ed Vaizey MP - Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries (joint Minister with Department of Business, Innovation and Skills)
Highlight these names, mention them in your blog posts. These people have the power to change things and they should know it. Their Google Alerts on their names will be crammed with our anger.
Already, the blogosphere is buzzing:
Lucy Coats decries culture minister Ed Vaizey's fair weather support for libraries. "Where is his passion for libraries now?" she asks on her blog Scribble City Central. (I have enlarged Mr. Vaizey's name so that he knows we are laying a lot of this at his feet)
Thanks to Tracy Baines who reposted my piece on the Tall Tales and Short Stories blog.
And Philip Ardagh, author of the Grubtown Tales, who started out being funny and ended with an impassioned plea.:
LIBRARIES MATTER. HELPING TO STOP LIBRARY CLOSURES MATTERS. As for Mr Spock with a goatee beard? That has something to do with ANTIMATTER, but there's no room for that here. We all have to act NOW before it's too late, so what are you waiting for? He also posted this on Facebook and got amazing commentsHere's Nick Cross from Who Ate My Brain, who despite admitting that he doesn't get to his library much, says:
I don't know what the answer is to saving our libraries. But I do know that they are a vital public service and we need to make a hell of a lot of noise about their potential demise. Read the whole essayAnd Jon Mayhew, author of Mortlock:
... if it weren't for this humble building, its contents and staff, I wouldn't be a writer now. Next year 250 libraries are set to close.And Nicky Schmidt, who lives in South Africa, contributed this on the Absolute Vanilla blog:
Don't let them close your library down. Read Jon's piece
... It strikes me as the most short-sighted move imaginable. It strikes me doubly, living in a place where libraries are in short supply and books are not a priority for children because they're too expensive. The UK has something we do not. It has a cultural love of books and it has produced some of the most remarkable storytellers and fiction writers in the world. It has something which has shaped the both the British and Commonwealth cultural landscape and continues to do so. The UK has, through its library system, something so precious to give its young people, something we do not have. It has a culture of reading, where we do not. UK libraries serve the entire populace, we have considerably fewer libraries and ours serve only a minority. So when I read that the UK is planning on cutting its libraries, I want to smack my forehead, bang several heads together and ask if the UK government has taken leave of its senses. Read Nicky's post (I so get where Nicky is coming from - In my native Philippines where libraries are an unaffordable luxury, people would be shocked at how casually the UK government can throw away something the rest of the world can only dream of)And Philippa Francis on the KM Lockwood Blog, wrote an open letter to people like Ed Vaizey who can actually influence policy - warning them that NOT doing anything about library closures shows that ...
Keren David, YA author, blogged this brilliant piece (which is almost a poem) about Who Uses Libraries
- you don’t care about children who have no books at home, in fact, you don’t care about anyone who has no other access to books
- you think the excitement and specialness of entering a physical world of ideas isn’t important for lots of children or adults
- you want children to see reading as only something you do to fill in worksheets at school Read Philippa's letter
And Kathryn Evans wrote about Why You Should Care About Libraries
And Nina Killham was enraged when someone told her libraries were old fashioned.
Keep blogging, keep shouting.
Sometimes it's the only way to make people listen.