Saturday, 5 February 2011

Save Our Libraries Day!

Image by Phil Bradley
Today was a national day of action against library cuts and closures. Read-ins, protests and story telling events had been planned nationwide, as can be seen in the Guardian's excellent map. Cambridgeshire seems like it may fare better than many counties, but 13 out of its 25 branches are to be placed under review.

As most people reading this will know, I work in a college library. This has meant that I don't often visit a public library, as I can get plenty of books from where I work! So it was really nice for me to spend a day in public libraries again, proper community spaces which are quite a contrast with the college library. The first event I went to this morning was a public read-aloud flash mob around the Grand Arcade shopping centre, outside the Central Library. This event was organised amazingly quickly by Emma Coonan.There was a fantastic turnout for this, probably around 30 or 40 people showed up to hand out fliers, talk to shoppers about how they could help save their libraries, wave placards, and read their favourite books out.
*blows conch* Library team, assemble!
Unfortunately we weren't allowed to do much in the actual shopping centre, but we split into groups and placed ourselves at all the entrances. In the group I was in we had readings from Ulysses, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Three Men in a Boat, and Matilda (my choice!).

We got fairly mixed reactions from the shopping crowd, some giving us strange looks and hurrying by, but a lot of people were interested in what we had to say and took our leaflets. Quite a few were on their way to Central Library (inside the shopping centre) which was great too. Andy Priestner was in the group outside the main entrance to the Grand Arcade and they were getting a great reaction there by all accounts! Andy's post of the day is here and is well worth a read.

I think this was Three Men in a Boat!
From Central Library, Rory and I made our way (rather circuitously, due to me getting us lost!)  to Arbury Court library. Arbury Court is one of the branches under threat, and the Friends of Arbury Library are campaigning and raising support to try and defend their library. They had organised a read-in from 2 until 3pm. When we got there (just slightly late!) we could here the buzzing of lots of people from outside the building, and walked in to see a packed library with people at every computer terminal, a queue at the issue desk, and people reading - sitting on every available chair and then on the floor. There were a few news people around with cameras and we all posed for a photo for (I think) the Cambridge Evening News, so hopefully we'll see something good in there. We stayed and read until the library closed, as did most of the crowd there.

So hopefully today we made some noise, made some people more aware of the threat to their local libraries, and gave the local newspapers some good photos to print! Also it's been great seeing all the #savelibraries tweets from all over the country. I haven't been watching any TV today but will try and catch up on library bits on iplayer later!

Saving libraries sure is thirsty work!


  1. Thanks for this! keep it up:-)

  2. great stuff, Library staff are very pleased that a group of great people did this.