Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Author, author: Kate Mosse'The government has little idea of what skilled and trained librarians actually do'

 Kate Mosse The Guardian, Saturday 11 December 2010

On Thursday, secondary school pupils and their parents, university students and their professors, teachers, booksellers, librarians, writers and artists were among those marching on frosted streets to protest against the cuts to university funding and the abolition of the education maintenance allowance.

But demonstrations against the coalition's education policy are far from being the only evidence of growing grassroots activism. Complaints against the savage cuts planned for library services in the UK are becoming louder as the iniquity of what is being proposed becomes clear. Library campaigners are not prepared to stand by and watch something they cherish be dismantled brick by brick. So, the Save Our Libraries campaign in Barnet, north London, is gathering enough signatures to get the council to reconsider its proposals; in Edzell, Angus – where library services have been reduced to a van parked outside the old Victorian building for two hours – the protest has been building. Everywhere, ad hoc campaigns are taking place. The Future Libraries Programme, announced in August, was intended to "help library authorities . . . look at how best they provide their services", but is now understood as a gateway to a reduction in spending: two of the areas involved, Oxfordshire and Lewisham, are among those suffering the most savage cuts.

At a national level, too, organisations are making their voices heard. The children's author Alan Gibbons, founder of the Campaign for the Book, has organised more than a thousand authors, publishers, illustrators, librarians, agents, poets, teachers and journalists to put their names to an open letter protesting about the 250 library closures already announced – an act, as the letter puts it, of "cultural vandalism". Agencies involved in reading and literacy are working to point out the contradictions in the government's position. For example, the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council – which has been administering the Future Libraries Programme with the Local Government Association – is going, yet calls for a more effective library agency to replace it have been refused.

Read Kate Mosse' full piece at The Guardian.

No comments: