Author Archives: Lauren

Libraries and Community Resilience

This post is to highlight some of the valuable and relevant public libraries research emerging from the Departments of Library and Information Science around the UK. Daniel Grace conducted his Masters dissertation at the University of Sheffield in 2011, and his work is entitled ‘The Role of the Public Library in Promoting Community Resilience’. You can access and download it from the University of Sheffield website by clicking here. Here’s a few words from Dan about his work:

We’re all doomed! Got your attention? Good. Now perhaps I’m exaggerating, maybe we’re not all doomed quite yet, but communities are facing increasing threats from disasters precipitated by a host of factors, including climate change, economic collapse, and energy insecurity. In the face of such problems, communities must adopt strategies that build resilience, giving them the capacity to adapt positively to these changes. My Masters dissertation explores the role that public libraries might play in this process. It is a relatively new area of research, but one that is attracting an increasing amount of interest (the ALA has just released a book on the topic), and one that seems vital to pursue if we are to ensure that public libraries remain relevant in a rapidly changing world.

If you have any thoughts, comments, or criticisms drop me a line at danpgrace[at]gmail.com or @DanPGrace on Twitter. I also blog about this kind of stuff here.

The Terrifying World of Children’s Fiction

Should we really be concerned about “scary” children’s fiction? (Image c/o ‘smil on Flickr.)

Jess Haigh wrote the following post in response to author GP Taylor’s recent suggestion that children’s books need age certification. It was originally posted on the Leeds Book Club blog and is reproduced here with permission.

GP Taylor, Cloughton’s Famous Son, has been blathering on the radio creating mounds of self publicity drumming up awareness of the horror that is children’s fiction. It Has Gone Too Far, he says, There Is No Innocence Any More. The Children, it would seem, Are Not Being Thought Of.

This from a man whose books, set around my home town, include evil sorcerers, vampires, and close encounters with death. A man who also, in his former life as an Anglican vicar, represented a religion that teaches children the story of a man who was born in a stable, as a five week old infant chased out of the place of his birth because of mass infanticide, regularly encountered deprivation and disease and was tortured to death, as a lifestyle choice.

Children’s books are often derided for being ‘too’ scary, depressing, or dis-heartening. They encounter too much loss and heartache too young and there is far too much violence. To a point, I would agree. I’ve been reading Michael Grant’s Gone series along with a 12 year old mate of mine, and there are some parts when I think ‘should she really be reading about this teenager having his arms burnt off and replaced with whip-like tentacles? Should she really be reading about teenagers seeing their siblings die in horrible, horrible ways?’. Then I, you know, talk to her about what she is reading and she absolutly loves it. She refuses to read books that aren’t massively violent-these books reflect for her an exciting world. And she knows violence is wrong, she doesn’t get into fights, we TALK about how the books make us feel and we learn from the emotions that come up.

Children need the darkness, just like adults do. There is reason we used to sneak-watch scary movies when we were kids, because we enjoy them. Controlled fear is good for us*, in moderation, it allows us to express emotions we otherwise would have no outlet to. And there is a massive difference anyway between gore and fear-a teenager bashing the heads of Zombies in with ski poles like the heroine of the excellent Undead by Kirsty McKay is a lot different to the chills up the spine of The Yellow Wallpaper.

It is the ‘there is too many troubled children with absent parents’ line that worries me, because this is segregating differently parented children and families into Universal vs Adults only. Josie Smith, one of my favourite series as a very young child, doesn’t have a dad, a fact that is made clear from the start. Is GP Taylor going to have an excellent series of books that shows a functioning single parent family many of the younger readers could either emphasise with, or learn to have empathy for, struck off because it doesn’t fit in with his ascribed lifestyle? There are books about kids being abandoned, stuck in poverty, and troubled because kids are abandoned, stuck in poverty and troubled. Something which the various religious institutions, for all their good works, have completely failed to deal with. There is a reason misereographies are so popular- 1 in 3 children will have suffered from neglect or abuse in their life time. 1.6 million children in the UK live in poverty- almost half of the children in Hyde Park in Leeds do. Why should these children’s lives, albeit fictional accounts, be repressed as not suitable for a wider audience? Why should a child, living on their own or in care, or as a carer, or with parents who don’t care, why should that child not be able to find relatable characters in fiction books because some one whose life is OK thinks it not suitable for them?

What needs to happen, what really needs to happen, is for the ludicrousy of this scheme to get more publicity, but also for library campaigners to jump on it. THIS is why you need qualified, motivated people in the schools who read and love and know the books, who can recommend accordingly, who know how to sensitively and not patronisingly steer away from the triggers, who will not compromise on freedom of speech but will recommend and lend wisely. Also know as, you guessed it, LIBRARIANS. Not ONE single political party supports A Librarian For Every School. This is the sort of thing that shows that they are needed and, if allowed to be so, could be incredibly valued.

Children are always going to like fictionalised violence, because adults like fictionalised violence. The Orange Prize received a lot of slack for being too depressing a couple of years ago. Until the world is made of sunshine and rainbows, though, we need our fiction to be relatable, not boring, and we need, more than anything, to be able to trust our children to make choices for themselves, be able to talk to them about what they read and deal with what it brings up accordingly.

That’s what I think, anyway.

*Read Bettelheim’s the Uses of Enchantment, it is excellent, and says all this stuff far more eloquently

Parliamentary Select Committee Inquiry

Voices for the Library are delighted by the news that the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport will be holding an inquiry into library closures.  Such a move, due to the unprecedented cuts in library services throughout the country and the inaction of the relevant ministers, is timely.  For too long have library users been told that the DCMS is keeping a watching brief and they will act when necessary, only for no action to be taken.  We fervently hope that the committee will take into account the views so strongly held by library users and campaigners that public libraries are an essential part of community life and democratic societies, provide a highly valuable social service and are essential for the improvement of literacy.

The committee is inviting written submissions and requesting views on what constitutes a comprehensive and efficient library service for the 21st century, the extent to which planned library closures are compatible with the Public Libraries & Museums Act 1964, the impact library closures have on local communities and the effectiveness of the secretary of state’s powers of intervention under the 1964 Act. Voices for the Library will be submitting evidence to the committee and is happy to provide information to anyone else who wishes to do so. We urge local campaign groups to make their own statements, clearly expressing the impact that library cuts and closures will have on individuals and communities.

A Guide for Witnesses to House of Commons Select Committees is available here.

Alan Gibbons’ Campaign for the Book has called for a moratorium on all closures, saying:

The Campaign for the Book welcomes the decision by the Select Committee on Culture Media and Sport to announce an inquiry into library closures. We believe that it is incumbent upon the DCMS, in line with its duties to superintend the public library service, to order a moratorium on library closures.

Even as we write Doncaster is planning swingeing closures. This kind of strategic decision is completely at variance with the conclusions of the Charteris report that prevented a similar closure programme in Wirral in 2009 and the recent Gloucestershire and Somerset legal decision.

The decision of the Select Committee follows in the wake of the High Court decision halting library closures in Gloucestershire and Somerset. Gloucestershire County Council at the time claimed that this it had been ‘tripped up on a small technical point.’ In fact, the judge said that: “the decisions under challenge were not just unlawful but bad government.” He ordered the total quashing of the library plans and told the library to completely revise its plans. The judge said the council’s behaviour was a: “substantive error of law” and a: “substantial breach.”

We stand at a crossroads. Will the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport give clear leadership in ensuring the health and vitality of the public library service or will the effective dismantling of much of its branch network continue?

It is time to act to save our ‘comprehensive’ and ‘efficient’ service.

Voices for the Library support this request and believe that local authorities should not implement reductions to services during a period of major investigation into the detrimental impact of cuts to library services.

 ————————————————————————————————————-

Call for Contributions

We need your help in order to draft an effective response to the inquiry by the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport into library closures. We are looking for evidence that planned closures have had an impact on  your library service as per the Public Library And Museums Act 1964.

  • Have library cuts and closures affected your community?
  • Have they had an effect on staffing, opening hours, services provided, IT provisions and/or book/DVD/CD/printed music  etc. selection?
  • Have you set up or joined a Friends group in response?

Your experience is invaluable. Please contact us via our website, our Facebook page, on Twitter @ukpling, or email us at contact@voicesforthelibrary.org.uk.

Please make sure your evidence gets to us by 20th December.

Kirklees to close seven public libraries

An anonymous source sent the following to Voices for the Library, reporting Kirklees Council’s decision to close seven out of its 26 libraries:

“Kirklees council are planning to close off access to local library service funding and national statutory obligations by moving seven ‘village’ libraries out of local authority control. This despite stating that no libraries would close and with a library service review that has yet to take place.

Public libraries at: Denby DaleGolcarHonleyKirkheatonLeptonShepley & Slaithwaite will be ‘offered’ to residents, communities, charities or private organisations as an opportunity for them to run an essential community resource. Offered on the table of financial cuts and political cowardice, Kirklees council have quite simply decided to close seven libraries.

Lacking any sense of the uniqueness or worth of free public libraries the council are blindly following the desperate policies of a number of other councils across the country. There are no examples of volunteer-run libraries delivering an inclusive service of such quality and breadth as those currently staffed by committed and professional people. There is no model upon which this scheme is based and in all likelihood no plan from Kirklees as to how this will be achieved.

  • Who made this nonsensical decision?
  • Why did they make it?
  • What details do they have?
  • Did you vote for them?

Freedom of Information (FOI) requests concerning the full disclosure of all decisions, persons, documents, minutes and other media relating to these plans should be addressed to:

The Information Access Officer
2nd Floor
Civic Centre 3
Market Street
Huddersfield
HD1 2YZ

and further information found here

Details of the councillors supposedly representing the communities around the seven libraries can be found on the search for councillors page.”

Outcome of Brent Judicial Review

Voices for the Library would like to express our disappointment with this morning’s ruling over the future of Brent libraries.  We would also like to re-state our support for library campaigners in Brent who have fought so hard to protect their library service for the good of the broader community.

The victory for Brent council sends out a very worrying message for library campaigners everywhere.  Council leaders across the country may look to this ruling to justify library closures and will see this ruling as the legal backing they require to go ahead with planned library closures.  They would be wrong to do so. Mr Justice Ouseley remarked during this morning’s proceedings that he did not believe the ruling in Brent had wide significance across the country, but instead reflected a judgement purely on how Brent council had approached its local situation. Councils should not, therefore, see this outcome as an excuse to cut their own services in a similar way.

Libraries across the country provide a vital service for many across the boundaries of society.  From young and old to rich and poor, libraries provide services for everyone. In the age of the internet it is easy to assume everyone has access to a wealth of free information.  The reality is that there are 9 million people in this country who are not connected to the internet.  For those 9 million people, the library is the only resource they have.  For parents of young children, the library plays an important role in supporting their development and improving their literacy skills.  For the elderly it is a vital lifeline to ensure they are not excluded from society.

Those who care about libraries across this country must come together and ensure that this ruling does not have the effect that many council leaders desire.  Together we can make a difference.  Together we can put pressure on Ed Vaizey to fulfil his commitment as Minister for libraries and ensure that library services across the country are truly comprehensive and efficient.  Write to Ed Vaizey and your councillors, get involved in local campaigns, encourage everyone you know to support and use their local library.  Together we can stop our library service being totally destroyed by those that do not understand the benefits they bring to local communities.

To the campaigners in Brent, we also say that whilst we share your disappointment, we hope you continue to fight your case at every turn.  You can be assured that we will stand and fight with you.  Today has undoubtedly been a setback but the outpouring of support for public libraries throughout the day should remind us that our cause is right.

Campaigners from Brent and around the country will be meeting on Saturday 22nd October at  University of London Union to co-ordinate efforts. See here for more details.

See here for a response from Unison and here for a response from the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP).

Update: 20/10/11

Brent campaigners have been granted permission to appeal the decision made by Mr Justice Ouseley. The appeal is due to be heard in three weeks.

The case for libraries’ use of social media: a how-to

Alyson Tyler is the Libraries Development Adviser in CyMAL, the museums, archives and libraries division of the Welsh Government. She has a doctorate in library and information studies from the Aberystwyth University, and occasionally conducts small pieces of research in her job. Working with external colleagues who lead on the marketing programme for libraries in Wales, she created a survey to assess the current situation with Web 2.0 in libraries. This has helped inform social media strategies for marketing, communications and workforce development in Wales.

A recent report based on a survey of librarians in Wales revealed interesting sector differences in relation to access to, and creation of, social media/networking technologies. Wales is small enough to be able to survey the academic and public libraries in one go, and as a result the findings are illuminating for revealing differences and similarities.

Most respondents saw this area as vital:

“This is a huge trend which we are missing out on and puts us back to where we started from with regards to our image and reputation.”

“We will get left behind and been seen as old fashioned and out of touch if we don’t make use of the available technology.”

But are all libraries in the same position? One of the key findings is that there is a difference between what higher education (HE) libraries can do on/with social networking, and what further education (FE) and public libraries can do. Without exception, the HE library staff do not face barriers in accessing social networking tools as creators or end-users and neither do their customers face any barriers. In contrast, FE colleges tend to restrict the type of social networking possible on the library computers (mainly to keep computers free for studying). Similarly, in public libraries at the time of the survey, about 50% of the respondents faced barriers in accessing social networking tools, for themselves as staff and also for users. (Restrictions for users were mainly based on age restrictions.) Often the decision to block access was not a library one, but a generic corporate IT one. Yet what annoyed librarians was that there may be a ‘corporate’ presence but they weren’t allowed to provide access in the library:

“It advertises some things on Facebook, but these can’t be accessed in the library.” [Public library]

(As an aside, the Society of Chief Librarians Wales are currently conducting their own internal survey of access to social media to update the findings from last year. Early indications are that slightly more do now have access to social media sites.)

I’m not going to discuss the problems of generic blocking of access, as it’s been done comprehensively elsewhere. There is a lot of enthusiasm among librarians across all sectors in Wales to become content creators, to advance their social networking skills and to use these skills for marketing and communication purpose to support the library service. One respondent to the survey gave this list of what they wanted to do if they had access:

“Interactive library pages e.g. catalogue gadgets for the desktop, Facebook groups interlinked with twitter, IM – ask a librarian as an enquiry tool, blogging software for current awareness”

But what can enthusiastic librarians do if they want to communicate with their audiences and potential users in an online medium but are currently unable to do so?

The first thing librarians can do is see if their organisation has a social media/networking policy and if it does, investigate if there is a method for seeking approval for having a social networking presence. After being inspired to try blogging and micro-blogging by various speakers during a string of conferences I did this for my workplace and put together the business case they required. Permission was sought and given for a blog and for a Twitter account – which I had actually had clandestinely for a year through not mentioning my workplace in my profile.

Because I know many librarians and library services in Wales are frustrated at the lack of access to social media websites I decided adapt my personal business case into a generic template that can be edited by any librarian in any sector for their own workplace. It is available here.

If you are seeking approval for a social media presence, some of the important things to consider are:

  • The aim(s) of your presence (be it a blog, a social networking site like Facebook, sharing photos etc)
  • How the site/tool will enable you to achieve those aims
  • What audience you will be targeting
  • How you will evaluate the presence
  • Resource implications (although low-cost there is a time and skill requirement)
  • Managing potential risks
  • How it fits into your library service/larger organisation’s general communications and marketing plans.

As one respondent said:

“Having good quality content is essential. There is no point having a blog just for the sake of it; it must have a purpose and an audience.”

Different social media tools do different things, and appeal to different people. If you want to engage with teenagers, you need to decide which is the most appropriate medium (where are they hanging out online?). Phil Bradley has just written three blog posts musing on different social networks and which one are useful for librarians, depending on what you like or want to do.

In Wales an additional consideration is the language and several public library services in Wales have bilingual Facebook pages (see Cardiff Central Library, Carmarthenshire and Gwynedd).

Despite all the whizzy technologies these tools are ultimately just communication channels. My Twitter account (@libalyson) was called “chatter for anoraks” by a very senior colleague in his regular staff bulletin. He reassured me this was a compliment. You may not see your online audience as anoraks but these tools are just different ways for you to talk to your customers. And hopefully nobody wants to ban talking.

Drafting the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964

Written at the request of Voices for the Library by Francis Bennion, a retired barrister and active writer and academic, who drafted the Bill which later became the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964. We published his letter to The Times in response to their article by Caitlin Moran on 16th August, which can be read here.

I was delighted to be asked to draft the parliamentary Bill that became the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964. I saw that the task gave me a valued opportunity to draw up the blueprint for an enhanced library service in England and Wales fully supported by the Government and local authorities.

We all have happy memories of public libraries, dating from our youth. Many a child has found refuge, help, enlightenment and companionship in their public library. Wise and skilled librarians put us on the right track, and led us to the most helpful, instructive and entertaining books. I saw an opportunity to further this great work, and eagerly grasped it. I had a vision of expanding library services, making them readily available to all who needed them (including youngsters not yet aware of treats in store). Libraries should be handy for dwellings or bus routes. Wherever necessary books should be taken to readers in the form of mobile libraries. There should be a sufficient supply of books of all types, suitable for all ages.

My new drafting assignment filled me with enthusiasm as I set to work. I was determined to write the Act in plain English, making every word count. I ought to set out my qualifications before reviewing the Act now, so here goes. I have spent more than sixty years in the field of legislation as draftsman, practising barrister, Oxford University law teacher and researcher, CEO of a leading professional body (the RICS) and author. I have written three books on legislation and many articles which are on my website www.francisbennion.com. The books are: Bennion on Statute Law (Longman, 3rd edition 1990, 373 pages); Bennion on Statutory Interpretation (LexisNexis, 5th edition 2008, 1,579 pages); and Understanding Common Law Legislation (Oxford University Press, 2001 & 2009, 221 pages).

I now analyse some key provisions of the 1964 Act (actual words of the Act are in italics).

nature of service A comprehensive and efficient library service.

compulsory components Books and other printed matter, and pictures, gramophone records, films and other materials, sufficient in number, range and quality to meet the general requirements and any special requirements both of adults and children.

readership All persons whose residence or place of work is within the library area of the authority or who are undergoing full-time education within that area. [Together the library areas cover the whole of England and Wales.]

duties of government (1) To superintend, and promote the improvement of, the public library service provided by local authorities in England and Wales. (2) To secure the proper discharge by local authorities of the functions in relation to libraries conferred on them as library authorities.

That is the bare bones of it. I haven’t space to include more detail about the Act’s contents. But I need to stress three points about understanding the legal meaning of Acts of Parliament.

(1)   Every person to whom an Act of Parliament applies is under a legal duty to comply with it.

(2)    A mere literal compliance without the substance will not suffice.

(3)   Implications may need to be drawn on.

An Act of Parliament consists of express words and implications. Thus for example it is implied by the 1964 Act that library authorities will fulfil their duties properly, will provide suitable buildings that can accurately be called libraries, and will employ sufficient trained, experienced, paid staff, not relying unduly on volunteers.

The official 2011 publication titled Future libraries – Change, options and how to get there does not appear to meet the requirements of the 1964 Act. It is primarily a charter, stuffed with jargon, for reducing costs. Yet any library authority which in 2012 and subsequently spends substantially less on its library service than it did in 2009 would be acting unlawfully. This is because all the 2009 expenditure would be assumed to have been necessary to comply with the 1964 Act.

On page 5 the publication makes the mistake of calling the work of library authorities ‘one of the most highly valued local authority elective services’, which literally means that the service is optional for the authorities when of course it is compulsory. Page 9 talks about the need to ‘break down the boundaries of tradition’, which rubbishes the great traditions of library service in this country. It also uses euphemism in describing reducing opening hours as ‘rationalisation’. Page 10 suggests locating libraries in shops, which does not to satisfy the Act. And so on.

Many library authorities are proposing drastic reductions in expenditure, though the Government has only conducted two public inquiries (Derbyshire 1991 and Wirral 2009). This is an inadequate compliance with its statutory duty.

© Francis Alan Roscoe Bennion 2011.

Public libraries are protected by law

This letter is reproduced with permission from Mr. Francis Bennion, a retired barrister and active writer and academic, who drafted the Bill which later became the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964, the law which makes public libraries a statutory service. It is in response to the article written by Caitlin Moran, which is reproduced with her permission here. The paragraph that was omitted from the published letter (in square brackets) may be of particular interest to campaigners who are currently working on, or considering, legal challenges to library cuts.

I read Caitlin Moran’s account of the debt she owes her threatened public library as the only alma mater she has ever had (The Times Magazine, 13 August 2011) with particular sympathy. Nearly half a century ago I was struggling to draft appropriately the Bill that became the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964. I was instructed to draw a reasonable line between the requirements of the public and the limited resources of local authorities. The Act is still operative. Various attempts to enforce it by judicial review are pending.

The Act says a local authority which is a library authority must “provide a comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons . . . whose residence or place of work is within the library area of the authority or who are undergoing full-time education within that area”. Its stock of “books and other printed matter, and pictures, gramophone records, films and other materials”, must be “sufficient in number, range and quality to meet the general requirements and any special requirements both of adults and children”.

[Under this provision a severe reduction now in the public library facilities which were being provided by a particular library authority two or three years ago is likely to be unlawful. This is because there is a presumption that the earlier provision did not exceed what was required under the Act.]

The Act also says that the Government must “superintend, and promote the improvement of, the public library service provided by local authorities in England and Wales, and . . . secure the proper discharge by local authorities of the functions in relation to libraries conferred on them as library authorities”.

It does not appear that the statutory duties I have mentioned are being adequately fulfilled at present. The Act does not contain any provision for reduction of the duties because of a need for “cuts”. [1]



[1] Published in The Times 16 August 2011. The important passage in square brackets was omitted.

Voices for the Library at Hay Festival

Just a brief update for those who don’t already know that Voices for the Library are down at the Hay Festival at the moment, promoting the value of public libraries, asking people to pledge their support to libraries and helping people set up local campaign groups and challenge cuts and closures in their area.

We’ve got a brilliant collection of stories from people young and old, about why they love their particular library, why they think libraries are important to society and what libraries mean to them. These stories will be added to our site when we get home, and will then be used in talks that the Voices team give at conferences and public events, and in publicity material to show just how much people value their libraries and why National Libraries Week is going to be such a vibrant and far-reaching series of events next February.

Here are some photos of what we’ve been up to so far, and some of our favourite stories. More photos are in the Voices for the Library flickr pool.

Ellis, 4, is learning to write. He told us that he loves going to his library and can't imagine why the council want to close it.

Mavis works at a primary school, where on registration day she gives out membership forms to the local public library too. She told us that parents and grandparents queue up to join, as well as the children. Keira, 9, told us that she loves her library because instead of spending all her pocket money on books, she can go to the library and get them for free!

Roland, 83, told us that his wife Joan uses three of Epsom's public libraries several times a week. They are under threat of closure, which he thinks is a disgrace.

“As an only child in a farmhouse with no books but the Bible and the ‘Hereford Times’, the mobile library changed my life. I was the first person ever to get a degree in my family.” Suzy Davies

“I met my husband in a library. My parents, children and grandchildren have all enjoyed and made good use of libraries. Libraries are an incomparable source of information, knowledge and inspiration. Let’s keep it that way!” William & Beryl

“Libraries offer access to books for everyone – as  primary school teacher I think it’s a tragedy and a disgrace that they are under threat. Books offer education, information, enjoyment and escapism and should not be denied to any child, irrelevant of where they live or who they are.” Ruth Blayney

“Walking into the library is like walking into a sweetshop…but so much better! A thousand different worlds ready & waiting for me to pick them up and travel into them, for free!!!”

“LIBRARIES GAVE US POWER. Stories are a way of putting things into boxes so that we can better understand (nicked from Patrick Ness).” Jayne

“My library is very important. You should keep them because they are where people go to borrow books, rent dvds and study. Keep them open. They mean SO much to people.” Maya, age 10.

“Libraries = access to the world.”

“Each of my four children have got a library ticket on the day of their six week check. We have to fight to save our libraries.” Lu O’Shea

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.