Sunday, 16 January 2011

North Yorkshire library campaign progress

Since I last posted, the national campaign to protect the UK's public libraries has made significant progress. In a real demonstration of support from library users across the UK, the #savelibraries hashtag on Twitter went from obscurity to worldwide trending status within a matter of hours as thousands of people gave reasons why libraries are brilliant. In Somerset, library campaigners are pursuing legal action against the county council and are actively seeking a public inquiry into the proposed library cuts across the UK. In London, Boris Johnson is seeking to set up a trust run by Team London to save libraries from closure. In Gloucestershire, the ever-excellent Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries are making excellent progress and the situation was highlighted in The Guardian by Joanna Trollope. Across the country, more and more people are pledging to protect their libraries and - though they shouldn't have to do so - fighting against their own councils for their public services.

The informal campaign to Save North Yorkshire Libraries has also been making progress and capturing media attention. The Yorkshire Post ran this piece on library closures damaging isolated rural communities. John Harris from The Guardian put out a video of his tour of North Yorkshire libraries highlighting the situation and showing that community-run libraries like Hudswell village library may be great socialist enterprises but they are no replacement for a council-run library service with trained staff. Easingwold Library featured in a BBC Look North segment which talked to library users who valued the library. MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, Andrew Jones, has come out strongly in support of North Yorkshire libraries and in particular Bilton and Starbeck libraries: I encourage Harrogate residents to sign the petitions Mr. Jones has made available. 

Fellow Voices for the Library team member, Lauren Smith, did sterling work appearing on BBC Radio York on Monday and BBC Radio Tees on Thursday (at the 1:37:00 mark). Later that morning, I appeared on BBC Radio York (at the 1:38:30 mark) making myself sweaty, shaky, and nervous for North Yorkshire. 

Over the next few weeks, pro-library campaigns, local and national, will continue to progress. In February, we will face country-wide read-ins on the 5th of February and we’ll see consultations come to an end. We’re making progress but the hardest days are still ahead. Please visit the Voices for the Library website, if you value your library please submit a story or pledge your support, use the closures map to find local campaigns, and follow the Voices for the Library Twitter feed for all the latest developments. For North Yorkshire residents, please see my last post for details of how you can help.

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