Friday 3 December 2010

Fight for Our Libraries

Tweet to Save Libraries on this Hashtag #CFTB

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 comments
Here'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 essay
And 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.

Don't let them close your library down. Read Jon's piece
And Nicky Schmidt, who lives in South Africa, contributed this on the Absolute Vanilla blog:
...  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  ...
  • 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
Keren David, YA author, blogged this brilliant piece (which is almost a poem) about Who Uses Libraries

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.


  1. Thank you for linking, Candy. Righteous anger is a powerful weapon. Mr Vaizey should be shaking in his shoes by now. Oh how I do hope he is.

  2. I was writing this and I saw your post! Brilliant! We should all get shouting.

  3. This just in: Sarwat Chadda (Devil's Kiss) writes: "The library has been the mark of a civilization. Always has, always will be. Those that tear them down will be judged badly by history."

    Hear that, Ed Vaizey?

  4. Some of the worst-hit areas have local campaign groups who are getting some traction. Google for yours, or try

    If you are a published author and you live in/come from somewhere where the libraries are under threat you might be able to help your local group raise awareness by adding your support, as it's a hook for a media story. I'm from Cheltenham and Friends of Cheltenham Libraries passed my details on to the county paper, which resulted in this article.

    Btw Candy, it seems to be impossible to comment on your journal in either Firefox or Chrome - the 'Post a comment link' doesn't respond, and just flashes up 'Read' at the bottom of the screen. I've had to resort to IE.

  5. Almost a poem? Hmmm..

    Just want to point out that letters from headteachers and sports stars may well have forced Cameron and Gove into rethinking their plan to decimate school sport. If they can rethink one cut, they can rethink another.

  6. Thanks for your blog and for the mention, Candy. Together maybe we can do something...xx

  7. Just found this one by Anna Bowles ... good one - but you forgot to mention Ed Vaizey!

  8. Libraries we need them..why therefore is there a shutdown and lack of funding? sadly our Govt and previous have this it costs a bit and they are not trendy PR things mentality! JK R needs to join this blog anfd then with her media pull maybe something would happen..or else get Cheryl Cole to admit to reading being cool and what she does when Wagner is on live! seriously we need cooldom..Beckham loves books?
    at least maybe Gok Wan may be persuaded..anyone with contacts contact them. I like others spent many saturday morns in my library in Crosby and read oodles of great books..I now goto the same library as a provider of words and bring HUGE names to boost its profile Jacqueline Wilson, Jonathon Stroud, Joseph Delaney, Cathy Cassidy, Derek Landy,Philip Caveney, Anne Fine, Debi Gliori,Tommy Donbavand, Jon Mayhew,Matt Haig, Cathy Hopkins, Val mcDermid, Stuart MacBride, Michael Marshall, Mark Walden, Michael Scott and many more in the last few years..with the lack of a library would this have happened!

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. I've added my voice and named some names. I linked to your post (and a few others) and mentioned the twitter tag.

  11. Have joined in this worthy campaign!

  12. And here's Dave Cousins, author of Fifteen Days Without a Head, adding his blog voice to the rabble. Go, authors!

  13. Thank you for your post on libraries, Beth Kemp of the Thoughts from the Hearthfire blog. Every voice matters.

  14. I'm really pleased to see so many people blogging about the situation with public libraries in the UK at the moment.

    I am one of the founder members of Voices For The Library (mentioned in Catherine Bennett's piece in The Observer). You may be interested in our site. We're also on Twitter as @ukpling.

    This national campaign is bringing together library users and staff to highlight positive stories from the library users perspective. Stories can be submitted via the website.

    Members of the team are also questioning the reasoning behind closing libraries in particular areas, such as Gloucestershire, Doncaster and Leeds and we are addressing concerns to councils involved.

    More details can be found on the website.

    Thank you.

  15. Thanks Gary, check out the Voices for the Library website, everyone.

    Julie Day has joined the uproar on her blog ... thank you, Julie!


Comments are the heart and soul of the Slushpile community, thank you! We may periodically turn on comments approval when trolls appear.

Share buttons bottom