Across the UK, several library patrons and book lovers assembled for Save Our Libraries Day to protest severe budget cuts by the government that have threatened the closure of over 350 libraries. Eighty events were scheduled, including “read-ins” featuring well-known authors. According to a live blog at The Guardian, the day definitely had an impact on library attendance and has garnered tons of coverage — and attention from Parliament members. Was the nationwide protest a success? And who showed up to read?
While it’s too soon to say if Save Our Libraries Day will result in saving all the libraries in question, it’s pretty clear that it will be hard for the British Parliament to ignore what went on today. Last month, Stony Stratford Library set the bar for closure protests by emptying its shelves. (Today, they hosted author Carole Matthews.) While no such stunts occurred today, the protest featured authors reading their own works, cosplaying, and flashmobreading. Among the recognizable names taking part in read-ins were Alan Moore, who read at St. James Library in Northampton, and Philip Pullman, who read at Oxford Central Library (but was also seen at Botley Library in Oxfordshire).
Children’s author Jo Cotterill was at the North Leigh Library and reported a “400% increase” in attendance for the library that only stays open for two hours on Saturdays. And along with parents with children, teenagers, and other local patrons, some actual government officials showed up:
Barry Norton, David Cameron‘s election agent, attended in person and was happy to show his support. Local Conservative Councillor Louise Chapman, who was brought up in North Leigh and attended the primary school, also gave her support, saying she hoped that the library service would find a way to implement cuts without having to close branches.
Here is a video by local resident Sandra Munoz-Alvarez featuring supporters of Battersea’s York Gardens Library, proving that just about any kind of person imaginable uses and appreciates their library:
And Sarah Bradley, who took the top pic, says that “[t]he protest is in full swing at Leeds Library. Amassed protestors have stamped out their full allowances of books, and are sitting on the library floor having a right good read.”
In all the excitement, rumors sometimes got around that some libraries have been saved from closure, but that kind of news probably won’t be coming this quickly. But we across the pond love a good peaceful protest that involves good old-fashioned reading appreciation. Good luck!
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