Since I cannot attend the Parliamentary Lobby for Libraries on 13th March, I was inspired by Bethanar's letter to her MP which she added to her blog last week. Subsequently I have just e-mailed the following to my MP:
You may or may not be aware that on Tuesday 13th March, the coalition organisation 'Speak Up For Libraries’ has organised a Parliamentary lobby and rally. Following Ed Vaizey’s evidence session to the select committee inquiry into library closures, a rally will then take place from 12.00 noon at Central Hall with the lobby of Parliament beginning at 2.30pm. As I am unable to participate in this event, I am writing to ask you to sign Early Day motion 2817, Speak Up For Libraries. The Speak Up for Libraries’ organisation comprises the Women’s Institute, Unison, Campaign for the Book, Chartered Institute of Information Professionals (of which I am a member) and Voices for the Library, all of whom believe wholeheartedly believe that libraries are at the very heart of our communities, including schools.
As a professionally qualified Librarian, living in Liskeard and working in a secondary school in Plymouth, I cannot express enough my anger and disappointment over the proposed plans to close up to 400 libraries across the country. This will deprive people of an essential resource which offers them free access to the rich world of fiction transporting them to places which some can only dream about, non-fiction to help them solve any problem they may encounter (as Will Smith says in his video ‘The Key to Life is Running and Reading’, there have been millions of people who have lived before us and there is not a single problem that cannot be solved by reading a book) and Internet access to reach dozens of support services including local government, NHS Direct and Citizens Advice Bureau (a third of UK homes do not have access to the Internet). In addition hundreds of library staff will be made redundant who will then be in no position to act as professional, independent information brokers who can also deputise as therapist, counsellor, play leader, teacher and friend. As an example, the Mayor of a northern council has only last week refused to accept a majority vote by his councillors to halt the closure of 14 libraries, instead choosing to hand them over to volunteers. As a mother of a five year old girl, I love our trips to Liskeard Library and I despair of the argument made recently by a councillor in a south east county who suggested that libraries were no longer needed as books are now so cheap. My initial response to that is that they don’t come any cheaper than free at your local public or school library and even from the point of view of a comfortably financial family (and yes, I know how lucky we are), I still view free books available at my local library as an heaven sent opportunity.
And it is not only public libraries which are under threat. School libraries are closing across the countries, book stock dispersed to departments and dedicated library staff made redundant, therefore depriving students of a neutral, non-judgmental information service because that is what a librarian is; not a book stamper. During a two week period, the library at the school where I work, issued no less than 825 books! This is an incredible amount in a secondary school which serves an area in which some of the lowest socio-economic families live. However the Principal is a firm advocacy of the school library, setting aside appropriate levels of funding each year to ensure students have unfettered access to a wide range of fiction books so as to inculcate a reading for pleasure culture, extensive range of non-fiction books, PCs with Internet access and DVDs with Ipads and Kindles to both educate and entertain as well as professional library staff to advise, guide, share, teach and laugh. I always allow myself a wry smile when I consider the fact that prison libraries are statutory whereas school libraries are not.
Libraries should be at the heart of our communities, but the government is allowing this heart to be ripped out. Please sign the Early Day motion 2817, Speak Up For Libraries and pledge your support in Parliament for libraries both in Cornwall and throughout the country.
Please support Lobby for Libraries anyway you can: http://www.speakupforlibraries.org/