Today library champions and campaigners, authors, trade unionists, politicians and literacy advocates from around the country gathered in central London to make their point nationally – that government support for libraries is now long overdue.
And that a public service for which Britain is well-regarded worldwide needs protecting and nurturing instead of the indifference and piecemeal dismantling that it is currently facing.
The event started with a rally at the Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, that featured speeches from authors including Kate Mosse, Philip Ardagh and Alan Gibbons as well as campaigning organisations including Voices for the Library, The Library Campaign, the Women’s Institute, CILIP (the professional body for libraries and library staff) and public sector trade union UNISON.
It also attracted campaign groups from around the country and a speech from Shadow Culture Minister Dan Jarvis MP. His government opposite number Ed Vaizey had declined an invitation after giving evidence to a Parliamentary inquiry into library closures this morning.
More than 100 people then crossed Parliament Square to ask for meetings with their MPs in order to suggest they call on the government to:
Enforce the law that says local authorities must provide a “comprehensive and efficient” library service.
Acknowledge that libraries are important to people, particularly during a recession.
Create a long-term future for libraries that includes a vision for their development and clear service standards.
Ensure councils have enough money to provide quality services that are well-planned and sufficiently staffed.