Read-ins: what and why?

You may have heard the announcement that a day of protest Read-Ins is planned in libraries across the country in February. But what are Read-Ins, and why are they important?

What’s a Read-In?

Quite simply, Read-Ins are a way of demonstrating the need for public libraries and disagreement with local councils’ decisions. They’re family-friendly, peaceful and bring together people from all over the community who share the belief that public libraries are a vital public service. It really is up to you as to what will be happening at your Read-In. It could be exactly what it says on the tin – a large group of people descending upon the library to read quietly. Or, it could be a much more vibrant event. Save Doncaster Libraries have been holding Read-Ins since July. There have been authors, poets and musicians who’ve put on entertainment, not only to lift the spirits of people fighting library closures, but also to show what kind of things can take place in libraries that are of real value to communities, particularly young children and families. Members of the public have spoken publicly about what the library service means to them and how their lives will change for the worse without it. And of course, Read-Ins are the perfect place to get lots of people to sign petitions against cuts to libraries. Here are some photos from Doncaster events:

Warmsworth read-in group
Warmsworth read-in
Wheatley read-in

Why Are Read-Ins Important?

Campaign groups have been working around the country to advocate for libraries and argue that the public needs them. They have been trying to convince councils that cuts to library services are a false economy that will cost councils more money in the long-term even though libraries continue to be incredibly important (in fact, many argue that libraries are more important now than ever). Campaign groups, authors and the public have been holding protests and communicating with councils, but severe cuts are still being proposed. It’s important for people to engage with what’s going on around them and to show the council and the councillors they vote for that cuts to libraries are not acceptable. Read-Ins are an excellent (and fun!) way to do that.

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