This is the eye-catching banner at one of the UK Uncut protests against tax avoidance on December 18th. It is gratifying to see such links being made. This week one of the Doncaster Save Our Libraries campaigners wrote to me, suggesting that we hold protests at some of the 350 plus libraries being threatened with closure.
With councils due to finalise their spending decisions in February, I think this is an idea that deserves serious attention. So forgive me for interrupting your seasonal break, but I need to know if people think this is practical and desirable. Yes, the holiday will give us very little time to organise. If we are serious about doing our utmost to save the public library service however, I feel we have to move on this.
This is what I am proposing:
*Library campaigners hold Read-ins at selected libraries around the country on Saturday, February 5th, say at noon, focusing on branches facing closure in key areas such as Doncaster, Leeds, Lewisham, Brent, Cornwall, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, etc.
*The Read-In would begin with speeches by readers, authors, trade unionists, librarians, councilors committed to libraries, etc and continue with protestors going into their libraries and taking turns to read excerpts from their favourite books.
*The Campaign for the Book is an umbrella body and respects the autonomy of local campaigns. The exact nature of each protest would be up to each area.
*We would try to attract the maximum media publicity in the build up to council meetings and the Conservative Local Government conference in Warwickshire on Friday, February 11th.
*The atmosphere should be celebratory, pointing to the positive impact libraries have in communities, raising literacy, giving access to ICT and information, providing meeting places and local events. We want to demonstrate what libraries are and argue what they could be with a proper strategy for their development.
If this is to happen, we need to move quickly.
I would need to know which areas want to hold protests so that I could assemble a list to send to the media. I would also need two or three contact email addresses for each local campaign.
Please get in touch with me on:
Campaign for the Book