Socialist Worker

Debates in libraries fight

by Steve Squibbs
Issue No. 2275

Library campaigners gathered in London on Saturday to share strategies to resist the wave of library closures.

Up to 600 libraries are threatened with closure across Britain.

The conference, organised by the Library Campaign and Voices for the Library, started with presentations from campaigns in Gloucestershire, Doncaster and Brent.

Last week Brent activists held a round-the-clock vigil to stop their libraries being boarded up after they lost their case in the high court.

Workshops came next—an opportunity to share ideas, information and tactics.

The largest workshop of the day looked at the use of volunteers in public libraries.

Although there was unanimous agreement that libraries should be run with paid staff, many campaigns felt they would reluctantly resort to volunteering to keep their library open.

But many argued that this would mean affluent areas getting a service while deprived areas couldn’t.

As one Unison rep said, “Volunteer-run libraries are the silent death of public libraries.” The whole logic of cuts needs to be challenged.

In the final plenary session the campaigners discussed plans for a national protest in London against library closures.

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Tue 25 Oct 2011, 17:45 BST
Issue No. 2275
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