Alan Wylie, Barnet library campaigner spoke for many today when he made the case for publicly funded, professionally staffed libraries today at the rally that preceded today's Speak Up for Libraries lobby of MPs. As well as local libraries the plight of school libraries was also touched on by many speakers. School libraries are not a 'statutory requirement' (unlike prison libraries) and thus are vulnerable to cuts as well as pressure on space as schools expand to cater for increasing pupils numbers. Most school libraries cannot hope to stock all the books that teachers and students may require but many local authorities have cut the education library lending service which previously had a comprehensive stock.
George Hamerton, who is a pupil librarian at his primary school wowed the audiencve with his calmly presented case for the prpotection of libraries.
A common theme of contributors, whether authors, library workers or users, often speaking from their own experience, was the contribution that libraries made to hard up working class families who would otherwise not be available to afford books. This is as true today as it was for many of the speakers as they were growing up but closure of local libraries, school libraries and education library services means that the current generation is at a disadvantage compared to the previous generation - internet or no internet.
Barry Gardiner MP was not in London to listen to the views of Brent North residents who gathered to see him so here are the demands we would have put to our MP. None of the Brent or Harrow MPs have signed the Early Day Motion LINK
Enforce the law that says local authorities must provide a “comprehensive and efficient” library service by developing and implementing, with the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce, statuto y guidance on the responsibilities of public library authorities
Acknowledge that libraries are important to people – especially during a recession – by implementing policy during the 2016 Parliament which secures their statutory rights to a quality library service and recognises the contribution of libraries to overall policy objectives including economic prosperity, skills development, literacy, health and wellbeing and community cohesion
Give libraries a long-term future with a clear vision for their development and standards of service by including a programme of library development and modernisation in the 2016-2020 DCMS Business Plan
Ensure councils have enough money to provide quality services that are well planned and sufficiently staffed
Support the EDM 1025 (Early Day Motion) from Speak Up for Libraries Campaign :
That this House recognises that public libraries are hugely important to our communities; acknowledges that many have already closed or are under threat; welcomes the Speak Up For Library lobby of Parliament in support of the public library service on 9 February 2016; and calls on the Government to ensure that councils have enough money to provide well-staffed quality services to enforce the law that says local authorities must provide a comprehensive and efficient library service, to implement policy which secures people’s statutory rights to a quality library service and to give libraries a long-term future by including a programme of library development and modernisation in the 2016 to 2020 Department for Culture, Media and Sport Business Plan.