Tuesday, 1 February 2011

The power of one and the power of many

Sometime over the Christmas break, Five Leaves towers received an email from Alan Gibbons, children's author and organiser of the Campaign for the Book. I don't have it to hand but to precis it said, look, I know you are still munching mince pies, but what do people feel about a day of action around threatened libraries, let's say Feb 5th. We were not picked out, the email was sent to heaps of people and organisations in contact with the Campaign for the Book. And lo! (as folks say around Christmas) the people said yes. The Campaign is not something you can join, send off £20 and sleep better at night. It is not a campaign with local branches, nor is it a campaign that produces print, guidelines, or has Hon. Vice Presidents. There is an annual conference with speakers, but unless I have misunderstood, it is Alan Gibbons stirring us up and encouraging us to do what is right in our own area. On Feb 5th there is action in many parts of the UK - you can read about some of them at Alan's blog, and enter more in the Guardian's map of protest http://alangibbons.net/?paged=2.
If you are in Nottinghamshire come and join the Five Leaves' staff from 11.00am at Beeston Library in Nottinghamshire (there are also events in Sneinton and Stapleford). We'll be "reading-in" and "reading-out". Bring your library card (returns can be made at any Nottingham City or County Library) for a mass borrow or bring along something to read out. The event has the support of UNISON and will in turn support the staff, not get in their way. Do protests work? You can see on Alan's blog stories of local authorities backing off from library cuts. Not all, but some. And here the Council has put back £400,000 into its book fund and £70,000 back into staffing for 22 of the smaller libraries. The fund and the opening hours for these libraries will now only be cut by 50% not 75% - which takes us from catastrophic to bad. But it does save the jobs of many part-time low paid women and make the service viable if diminished. That those libraries will be returned to viability is the direct result of protest, including a letter signed by 100 local writers. So on Saturday we celebrate a minor victory and read in support of our local staff and library workers and users all over the country.

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