This Saturday is the fifth National Libraries Day. As ever, this provides us all with an opportunity to celebrate our public library service, a much appreciated public service that continues to attract millions every year. They may be children seeking out more books to devour as they develop their literacy skills, toddlers taking their first steps to develop their language skills, the unemployed using library computers to get online and seek employment, the elderly seeking to take their first steps on the internet or teenagers experiencing their first gig (no really!). Libraries are there for anyone and everyone. National Libraries Day is the perfect opportunity for all of us to show what they mean to our families and our communities.
Of course, National Libraries Day is about celebration, but it’s also about sending a strong message to local authorities and the national government that we will not tolerate a further assault on our public library service. As local authorities such as Swindon seek to wash their hands of 14 out of their 15 libraries, now is a perfect opportunity to put the spotlight on our library service and hold our politicians (both local and national) to account. Whilst we must shine a light on the cuts our local authorities are making, we must also acknowledge the lack of leadership from central government, coupled with the reduction in funding that they have passed down to councils across the country. It is not enough to point at the council and argue against their programme of cuts and closures, it is essential to follow the money to central government and hold ministers to account for the continual decline of a library service that millions rely on.
So, go out there and join us in celebrating our public library service. Share your photos on social media using #librariesday, tell the world what you are doing on National Libraries Day. Tell your friends, your neighbours, your family to go down to their local public library and discover what it has to offer. Then, when the day draws to a close, write to your council, write to your local newspaper, write to Ed Vaziey, use the Freedom of Information Act to expose how your councils and central government are taking their back on your public library service. Don’t stop writing and enquiring and challenging. Start a campaign group. Start a friends group. Speak up for your libraries. Because they belong to you. They belong to all of us, and we must never let them forget it.
Happy National Libraries Day from all of us at Voices for the Library.