So, what’s this about? We ♥ Libraries is a people-driven campaign to champion our local library service in northern Hertfordshire – that means towns like Hitchin, Letchworth, Stevenage and Baldock and the villages around them. It came about after a decision taken by Hertfordshire County Council in April to cut opening hours and mobile services for the purposes of saving money.
Now those cuts have come into force and people are facing reduced access to their local branches. This is not good – but, in other parts of the country, branches are closing down altogether and libraries are facing an extremely uncertain future. We want to make sure that never happens here, and we think the best way to fight it is to speak up loudly about how much we love our local libraries.
This campaign is totally independent of Hertfordshire County Council and its library service – although we did let them know we were planning to set it up. It is unaffiliated with any business, trade union, professional body, political party or similar organisation. It is simply a way for people who live in the district to champion and celebrate a service which has recently come under threat from cuts, and for us all to demonstrate how valuable we find it.
Our aim is to act as critical friends, speaking up about the things we like and making sure our voice is heard very loudly if further cuts are ever in the offing. And we’d very much like you to be a part of it.
When the cuts were announced in October 2010 Cllr Keith Emsall, who had responsibility for libraries at that time, said: “When our economic circumstances improve we can consider whether to increase the opening hours once again.” Let’s make sure that happens and the that council really hears from us if we can’t get the access to libraries that we need.
We are hoping to establish a proper Friends of North Herts Libraries group which will enable people around the district to work together to champion their local branch, organise events and arrange activities. But to do that we need lots of you to get involved.
If you’d like to stay in touch, and find out how this plan is progressing, please join in here. If you do this, your information will remain confidential. It will not be passed on to anyone else or used for any purpose other than the one stated here.
If you have experience of working on committees, organising the finances of voluntary groups or taking minutes, then we’ll bite your hand off. But we also need people with the enthusiasm to act as library champions for their town. Does that sound like you? If so, get in touch.