Joint open letter to Ed Vaizey – please consider signing and circulating

Following the recent High Court ruling, and announcement of the select committee enquiry, it has been suggested that library user groups, local politicians (all parties) who have been campaigning for their libraries and authors & educators send a joint, open letter to the Culture Minister  Ed Vaizey MP, whose inaction on library cuts and closures is an ongoing cause for concern.

We have penned a letter below. If you are a representative of a local library user group, elected political representative, or author or educator, and would like to be included amongst the signatories, please leave your name/name of your group (how you would like it to appear on the letter) as a comment on this blog post before Monday 19th December. We will then add all the signatures and send the letter to Ed Vaizey.

Please spread the word so as many groups as possible around the country can add their names.
UPDATE: This letter is now closed to new signatures in order to allow us to collate everything and send it to Ed Vaizey. Thanks so much for taking the time to sign and comment, and for spreading the word – the response has been fantastic.

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Dear Mr Vaizey,

We are writing to express our shared dissatisfaction with your execution of your responsibility to superintend public library services.

Council after council is viewing public libraries as a ‘soft target’ for spending cuts. Opposition to the draconian, swingeing and short-termist nature of these cuts has emanated from across the political spectrum and united library users from all socio-economic backgrounds and walks of life. But this opposition has too often been ignored by local authority administrations, who have been quick to freeze service users out of decision-making and democratic scrutiny processes.

Over the past year countless library users from across the country have written to you with concerns about their local authority’s plans for library services, and implored you to intervene. Petitions have been submitted, meetings have been attended with your officials, and demonstrations held on your department’s doorstep. In response we have all received the same brief, standard letter, informing us that the situations in our areas are being ‘monitored’. You have continued to ‘monitor’ as plans for devastating cuts are voted in by councils and implemented. You have ‘monitored’ as dedicated library staff are made redundant, as much-loved library buildings are made ready to be closed or sold, and as mobile libraries – a lifeline for the vulnerable and isolated – are parked up for good.

Faced with your inaction, library users have had no option but to turn to the courts. Following long, stressful and costly legal battles, library users in Gloucestershire and Somerset have been vindicated by a High Court ruling that their councils’ plans for library services were unlawful. Library users in Brent await the judgement of the Court of Appeal, and further legal challenges are likely to be launched in coming months. This would not, and should not have been necessary, had you and your department fulfilled your duty to superintend.

Mr Vaizey, in opposition you were a passionate critic of library closures. You described the planned 2009 closures in the Wirral as ‘offensive and outrageous’, and called, in the strongest possible terms, for your then opposite number, Andy Burnham, to intervene. But, faced with the current, unprecedented threat to our nationwide network of public libraries, your silence has been deafening.

It is time to act Mr Vaizey. Those who rely on public libraries across the country, including some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of our communities, need your support and firm reassurance that you will superintend in line with your responsibilities as secretary of state. Please act Mr Vaizey, and show library users across the country that you remain a passionate advocate for our public library service, and have not left your convictions at the door on entering office.

Yours sincerely,

Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries
Surrey Libraries Action Movement
We ♥ Libraries – for people who value libraries in North Herts and Stevenage.
The Friends of the Isle of Wight Library Service
Alan Gibbons, Children’s Author
Campaign for the Book
Paul Geraghty, Author and illustrator
John Dougherty, Children’s author
Upper Norwood Library Campaign
Parmjit Dhanda, former MP for Gloucester (2001 – 2010)
Cllr Philip Booth, Stroud District councillor for Randwick, Whiteshill and Ruscombe
Network of Educational Librarians in Lambeth (School & FE Librarians’ group whose students need & value public libraries as a space for leisure and learning outside of school / college hours)
Anne Sebba – (author, presenter, lecturer) Libraries are the foundation of a civilised society . Please support them.
Mark RobsonChildren’s Author.
Julie Higgins – Ex Library Worker (Wandsworth)
The Save Kensal Rise Library Campaign supports wholeheartedly this letter to Ed Vaizey and wishes to add its voice to the protests against the destruction of the public library service.
Berlie Doherty – children’s author
SOSBrent, the umbrella group for all the libraries threatened with closure in the London Borough of Brent, Barham Park, Cricklewood, Preston Road, Neasden, Kensal Rise and Tokyngton, supports this letter to Mr Ed Vaizey. Our communities need these libraries.
Mike Penny – Newnham Library, Gloucestershire
David Reedy – Immediate Past President, United Kingdom Literacy Association (UKLA)
Jamila Gavin- (children’s author) How can you claim to support literacy and not support libraries?
Graham Durham, Secretary, Save Cricklewood Library (Brent)
Michael O’Connor, Writer.
Carlin Anderson, childminder
Moira Munro
Liz Brownlee
Judie Chambers – Readers’ group member
Jan Kitchin
Councillor Paul Lorber, Liberal Democrat Group Leader, London Borough of Brent
Jo Woods, Brent School Librarians Forum                                                                                Voices for the Library
Fiona Crawford, School Librarians Network
Robert Swindells, Author
Brenda Swindells, Retired teacher/librarian
Lesley Mumbray-Williams, Teacher
J. Harrison, School librarian                                                                                                        John Kirriemuir, Librarian
Save Doncaster Libraries                                                                                                               Mike Brownlow, Author and illustrator
Roger Drury, Coleford Festival of Words                                                                                      Anne Fine, Children’s Laureate 2001-2003
Paul Hudson
Ann Lazim, Librarian, Centre for Literacy in Primary Education/Co-director IBBY congress 2012
Marcus Brigstocke, comedian, actor & broadcaster
Robin Ince, comedian and author
Dr Steve Jones, geneticist, prize-winning author and broadcaster
Simon Singh MBE, scientist, journalist and broadcaster
Sarah Lunnon, Gloucestershire County Councillor for Stroud East                                      Revd Dr Keith Hebden, Anglican priest and curate in Matson, Gloucester
John Holland, former Assistant Head of Libraries, Gloucestershire County Council
Christiane Nicholson, former Group Librarian, Gloucestershire County Council
Steve Barlow, Somerset library user
Colin Campbell, Retired Head of Library Services
Kay Hoskins, on behalf of Friends of Somerset Libraries and Friends of Wiveliscombe Library                                                                                                                                    Elizabeth Bentley, School Librarians’ Network
Rosalie Warren, Author
Bridget Rogers
The Friends of Stalbridge Library, Dorset
Katherine Langrish                                                                                                                           Steve Smallman, Childrens’ author and illustrator
Julia Green, Author
Alan Wylie, Don’t Privatise Libraries campaign
Jenni Hall, Library user
Caroline Roche, School Librarian                                                                                                    A. Ross, Labour Councillor in Ipswich
Friends of Sonning Common Library, Oxfordshire                                                                   Lilie Ferrari, Library user in Norfolk                                                                                                Jo McMcrum, Secretary of the Children’s Writers and Illustrators Group of the Society of Authors
Anna Baker, Library user
Mar Dixon, Library campaigner
Friends of Bridgnorth Library, Shropshire
Kate Scott, Writer                                                                                                                        Frankie Luxmoore-Peake                                                                                                           Lynne Collis, Distance learning PhD student and library user
Helen Ledger, School Librarian                                                                                                 Sarah Howard, Friends of Tuffley Library, Gloucestershire                                                         Ed Zaghini
Barry Conway, Branch Secretary, Bolton National Union of Teachers                             Christine Rance, School Librarian
Marcus Chown,  scientist, award winning-author, journalist & cosmology consultant to New Scientist magazine, and broadcaster
Sibyl, Library user, Birmingham
L. Miller                                                                                                                                      Margaret Hemming, Member of School Librarians’ Network
Joan Lennon                                                                                                                                      Sue Parr, School Librarian                                                                                                  Geraldine McCaughrean, Author
Frances Stoker, Principal, Kestral Info Services
Mike Collins, Gloucestershire County Councillor for Brockworth
Jackie Murrell, School Librarian
Lesley Williams, Gloucestershire County Councillor for Stonehouse
Johanna Anderson, Academic Librarian
Yann Martel, Author
Dennis Hamley (author, editor, creative writing tutor)                                                                Julia Donaldson, Children’s Laureate
Andy Stanton, children’s author
Friends of Milborne Port Library, Somerset
Alex Gutteridge, children’s author
Miriam Moss, children’s author
Rosanna Stevenson, English Teacher
Mary Hoffman, writer of children and teenagers books
Dave Quigley
Trevor Craig, Friends of Wychwood Library (Oxfordshire)
Gaynor Lloyd, Library User
Dr Pauline Kiernan
Debi Richens
KM Lockwood
Ian Anstice, Public Libraries News website
Patrick Ness, Writer
Debbie Noyce
Geoff and Liz Dubber
Jane Langton (retired from Somerset Library Service)
Barbara Band, School Librarian
Adrian Couper
Biddy Fisher
Ian Charlesworth
Alyssia Chapman, Shelver at the David Wilson Library, Leicester
Jo Wainwright, teacher and mum
Jonathan Paxton, Bedfordshire
Jeneane Monet-Tenwick
David Tenwick
Sarah Stamford, Academic Librarian and Writer
Rachel Stead
Liz Rodwell
Rob Hogg
Chris Chatt, Secretary of Gloucester Labour, grew up using Tuffley Library (one Gloucestershire County Council wanted to close)
Lucy Farmer
Helen Farrar
Sue Dearie, School Librarian
Jane Stemp, library user. librarian, author
Chris Addison, comedian, writer, actor
Katie Faulkner, PHD student and editor, Courtauld Institute of Art
Emmeline Tandoc, linguistics student
Christine Theophilus
N M Browne
John Dolan OBE
Christine Higginbottom – library user
Chris Meade, Director if:book, think and do tank exploring the future of the book (digital writer and Unlibrarian at the if:book cafe, run as a community enterprise at Hornsey Library, Haringey – previously Director of Booktrust and the Poetry Society)
Klara Sudbury, Cabinet Member for Housing and Safety, Cheltenham Borough Council
Philip Bomberg, Friends of Preston Library/Brent SOS Libraries
Shirley Burnham
Pam Jakeman
Catherine Watkins, Sixth Form Librarian
Julie Baker (retired teacher)
Debbie Mynott, Stories from the Web, Managing Director Digital Ink Drop CIC and Publisher
Molly Scott Cato, Green Party Councillor, Valley Ward, Stroud District Council and author
Keith Wolton, Isle of Wight
Isabel Ashdown, Author
Richard Hawkins, Librarian
Mark Gallagher, Sixth Form Librarian
Kate Mayfield, Author
Rosehill Readers, Suffolk                                                                                                              Anna Lyle, Author, former librarian and parent                                                                         Maria Clemen, Library user                                                                                                              Dr Niall Munro, Oxford Brookes University                                                                                 Paul Allan                                                                                                                                         Richard Greri, Artist                                                                                                                         Jonathan L. Howard, Author                                                                                                      Patrick McGinley
G. P. Jackson, Children’s author                                                                                              Elizabeth Chapman, Librarian and Researcher                                                                              Rob McMeekin                                                                                                                                Sarah Wolfenden, Academic Librarian                                                                                              Jane Rusbridge, Author                                                                                                              Bernadette, Writer                                                                                                                         Julian Owen, Journalist                                                                                                                Charlotte Young, Writer, reader, library user                                                                         Simon Hart                                                                                                                                  Lauren Smith, Library campaigner
Nicky Adkins                                                                                                                                Amanda Chorley, Former Library Assistant
Nikki Herriott, Librarian                                                                                                               Anne Robinson, School Librarian                                                                                                 Ruth Smalley, Warrington                                                                                                                 Elif Varol, Academic library employee and public library user                                                  Simon Barron, Academic Librarian                                                                                            Lynne Coppendale, School Librarians’ Network                                                                        Richard Beet, Bembridge Library, Isle of Wight
Julie Cohen, Author and Vice-Chair of Reading Writers                                                          Esther Cropper, Trainee Teacher
Kate Mosse, Author                                                                                                                             One Man and His Beard, Musician and library campaigner                                                    Andy Read, Independent District Councillor, Stroud, Gloucestershire
June Quigley, library user (until the cuts stopped access), Isle of Wight
Bethan Ruddock
Mick Fortune
David Drew, Labour and Co-operative MP for Stroud 1997 – 2010 and Stroud District Councillor
Sonia Friend, Gloucestershire County Councillor for Barton & Tredworth, Gloucester
Kathy Sullivan, Library Manager, Cuyahoga, Ohio, USA
Benda Rowan, library user
Mandy Powell, Librarian
Nicola Morgan
Peter Griffiths (former president of CILIP)
Zaddyman, Librarian
Penny Dolan
Gwen Grant, Writer
Duncan Wright, School Librarian of the Year 2010
The Mom, Books for Walls Project, working from USA to save libraries
Anna Evans, Author
Chris Tooze
Sarah Davis, Librarian and Library User
Moira Butterfield
John Hughes
Susan Hughes
Richard Pecout, Librarian
Eugenie Summerfield
Marcus Moore
Catherine Escott-Allen, former public librarian, now school librarian and voluntary member of the Management Team of FRED (Forest Read Easy Deal adult literacy project)
James Holland, Graphic Designer, New York
Laura Steel, Information Officer and regular library user.
Lesley Hurworth School Librarian and Chair Doncaster Children’s Book Award
Helen Tomkins, member of the now defunct Blackheath Village Library Users Group (I am not defunct)
Mark Hurn BA, MA, FRAS, MCLIP
Mitchell Dunkley
Joanna, Friend of Stroud Green and Harringay Library
Annie Johnson, Library Assistant
Alex Klaushofer. Writer, former Gloucestershire resident and committee member of The Campaign to Save Upper Norwood Library
Helen Murphy, Librarian
Robert Irving
Julie Randles
Kelly Kaye
P. Richardson
Helen Riley, Friends of Stroud Green and Harringay Library, London
Mark Hughes, Academic Librarian and Public Library user
Kate Smyth
Mary Hooper
Dave Harden MBCS, Volunteer IT Tutor                                                                                       Adele Geras, Writer                                                                                                                         Emma Crofts, College Librarian                                                                                                        Adam Haigh, President, South Carolina Library Association, USA                                          Rose Wilbraham                                                                                                                                Russ King                                                                                                                                         Nicola Smee, Illustrator and author                                                                                          Rebecca Brown, Writer, reader, library user and mother of two library users
Jo Cotterill                                                                                                                                         Julie Carthy, Founder of Forest Read Easy Deal
Val Bonney
Kate Paice, Editor, A&C Black
Linda Hopkins
Rachel Hore, Author
Helen Briggs, Former Policy Development Officer for Children and Young People for Gloucestershire County Council Libraries and Information Service
Karla C
Laura Swaffield, Chair of Friends of Lambeth Libraries
Rosie H
Mike Stores
Sally Ann Voak, Author and Journalist, Old Coulsdon Library Supporters
Gabrielle Kim, Author
Alan Fricker
Jane Johnson, Professional Publisher and Novel Writer
John Westmoreland
The South Carolina Library Association (SCLA)
Pamela Weaver
Kaye Bagshaw, Librarian and Booklover
Vivian French, Writer
Jennifer Howard, Librarian
Cindy Jefferies, Author
Damyanti Patel, Librarian
Alison Felstead, Academic Librarian
Helena Pielichaty
Graham Lee, AD LIB (The Association of the Friends of Dorset Libraries)
Marianne
Jessica Read, Library User (Bucks)
Joanna Trollope, Author
Nikki Heath, School Librarian
Save Debenham Library Campaign, Suffolk
Save Suffolk Libraries Campaign Network
Sue Pullen
Enid Richemont
Nick Doody, Comedian and Writer
James Hargrave, Parish Councillor and Library Campaigner from Stradbroke, Suffolk
Paul Hutchinson                                                                                                                            Hazel Robinson, Friends of Charmouth Library, Dorset
Lynn Roberts, Poet, author, reviewer, teacher, researcher, art historian
Susie Maguire                                                                                                                                   Peter Todd                                                                                                                                        Linda Newbery, Author
Revd Canon Dr Jeni Parsons, Rector of Matson, Gloucester
Joy Paterson, Secretary of the Parochial Church Council of St Katherine’s Church, Matson, Gloucester                                                                                                                                     Vivien Griffiths OBE (for Services to Libraries and Learning)                                                    Carol Moug                                                                                                                                      Julie, School Librarian                                                                                                                      Alisa Royston, on behalf of Friends of Sherborne Library, Dorset                                              Anthony Browne, Children’s Laureate 2009-11
Charlotte Mendelson, Publisher and author                                                                                   Guy Pringle, Publisher                                                                                                                   Suzanne Brown                                                                                                                                 Tracy Chevalier, Author                                                                                                                   Nicole Cornell, Librarian                                                                                                                   Jon Davis                                                                                                                                          Gill Jackson, Publisher                                                                                                                    Ken McClure, Thriller writer
Dr. Paul W. Nash                                                                                                                       Andrew Nethercoat, Teacher, dad and writer                                                                          Thomas A. Stevenson
Ann Cleeves, Writer                                                                                                                      Rosie Berridge, Library user and mother of library users                                                         Friends of Benson Library, Oxfordshire
Inge Thornton                                                                                                                                      Natalie Barker, Library user
Pippa Goodhart
Michele Fry, Libary user
Jane Lawes, Children’s author
Melanie Tighe, Friends of Waterloo Library
Barbara Gray on behalf of Duffield Reading Group
Cathy Foster, Cristina Sacco-Ritchie and Clare Thompson, The Noisy Librarians Group
Sarah Mussi, on behalf of Children’s Writers and Illustrators in South London (CWISL)
Kimberly Saunders, Academic Librarian
John Bond, Save Surrey Libraries
Paul Carter
Kate Haigh, Gloucester City Councillor (Labour)
Hazel Edmunds, Information broker, retired civil servant, library user
Ann Turnbull
Pauline Rainton
Tricia Adams, Director, School Library Association
Councillor Roger Sanders                                                                                                           Bridget Carrington, Secretary, IBBY UK (International Board on Books for Young People)
Vanessa Harbour, Writer and Lecturer                                                                                         Jane Borodale, Author                                                                                                                Councillor David Ellesmere, Leader of Ipswich Borough Council                                           Lucy Coats, Children’s author                                                                                                             Jo Wyton                                                                                                                                                Ian Clark, Library campaigner                                                                                                        Vivienne Schuster                                                                                                                               The Royal Society of Literature
Ian McLoughlin, Writer, blogger and counsellor                                                                           Ruth Middleton, Publisher
Savita Kalhan, Writer                                                                                                                        Rachel Holland, Library user                                                                                                        Steve McHale, Gloucestershire County Councillor for Robinswood
The Eddies Staff Reading Group
Pat Bidston, Former Librarian, Gloucestershire County Council
Paul Sandles, Legal Librarian and public library user
Hands Off Old Trafford Library
Aimee Augier, Teacher
Hugh Paton, Library worker and public library user
Pauline Rowson, Author
Alison Skoyles
Donna Baird, Librarian
Moyra Lumsden
Caroline Fielding, School Librarian
Martin Horwood MP, Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Cheltenham
Keep Middlesbrough Grove Hill Library Open
Kathryn Edwards, Librarian
Graham Croucher, Secretary – St. James Residents’ Association (Northampton)
David Butcher, Director and trustee of Friends of Kensal Rise Library                                   Desmond Clarke                                                                                                                                 Beverley Naidoo, Author
Lucile Deslignères, Language Librarian
Cheryl Cliffe, former librarian Gloucestershire County Council, now redundant
Paul Duggan,  Chair of Lakers School, governor at Coalway Junior School
Debbie Duggan, former librarian Gloucestershire County Council, now redundant
Rebecca Duggan,  Children’s nurse
Gareth Duggan, Police Officer
Edward Holland, National Transplant Liaison Co-ordinator
Mark Pain
Alison Johnston
Sarah Jenkins, Bookseller and library user, Suffolk
UNISON
Michael Johns, Guild of British Film and Television Editors
Gillian Ward
Bridget McMillan, School Librarian
Mo Hayder, Author
Rebecca Warren-Heys, Doctoral Researcher, English Department, Royal Holloway, University of London.
Roland P. Clark, Teacher Consultant
Moira Dawson
Hope Caton, Lecturer, Kingston University
Judith Baines, Buckinghamshire
Anne Redmon FRSL
Michael Rosen, Children’s Laureate 2007-9
Anne Brewster
Kitty Fitzgerald
Michael Morpurgo, Children’s Laureate 2003-5
Michele Lefevre, library user
John Daniel, IT Guru
Karen Smith
Sheila Gooddie, Author
Kathy Stockwin, Chair, Friends of Ivybridge Library
Professor Valentina Polukhina
Julian Stockwin, Author and library user
Timothy Collinson, Faculty Librarian (Technology) University of Portsmouth
Kay Powell, library user, Gloucester
Dr Pauline Kiernan, Author
Alison Lingham. School librarian
Sue Hall
Lionel Aldridge
Cherry and David Land, ReadWell and parents to 4 & 7 year olds in Glos who deserve to grow up being able to use and enjoy a local public library
Caryn Jenner, children’s book writer and editor
Matthew White
Edward Mirzoeff CVO, CBE
Martin
Elizabeth Catherine Negus (English Language/Literature Lecturer)
Pam Riley, Sixth Form College Library Assistant
Lauren Niland, Librarian and Library User
Christopher Hall, Librarian
Linda Sargent
Geraldine Warner, Library User
Rob Lawrence-Jones – cabinet maker
SP Moore
Pat Gifford
Anabel Marsh, academic librarian and former public librarian
Jonathan Stroud, Children’s author
Hazel Lawlor, Library User, Suffolk
Katherine Parker
Gary Green, Librarian
Anne Rooney – author of books for children and adults
Helen Price Saunders, academic librarian, former public librarian
Stephen Trinder
Simon Gurevitz, a member of Friends of Preston Rd library, part of SoS libraries in Brent
@Lookman
Dr. Judith Wardle, co-ordinator Save Oxfordshire Libraries
Nicholas Copley
Tim Davies, Chair, Stonehouse Branch Labour Party, for and on behalf of the Stonehouse Branch Labour Party.
Julie Deane
Sagar R. Shah, Director, BrentWatch
Joan Williamson
Save Croydon Libraries Campaign, formerly Save Sanderstead Library Campaign
Valerie Gould, School Librarian. On behalf of the many enthusiastic users of both my library and our wonderful little public library in Stowmarket, Suffolk.
Bridget James
Edmund Morris, Library user
Janey Morris, Library user
Janet Taplin
Karon Cross, Councillor for Cainscross, Leader of the Labour Group – Stroud District Council
Sylvia Knights, Town Councillor and Library Campaigner, Bungay, Suffolk
Diana Basterfield, Author
Roger Higgs, Retired Headteacher
Jenny Schwarz, Librarian
Con Dubois
Janette Dubois, Library user
Molly Screech,  trainee Drama Therapist
Deb Cresswell
Michael Taplin
Lorna Frost
Michael Barke
Norma Hartle
Cathryn Webb, Librarian
Jeffrey Boss
Chris Pallet, Gloucestershire County Councillor for Hester’s Way, Benhall and Up Hatherley
Kate Hill
Julie Nicol, library user
Linsey Chrisman, Children’s Librarian
Marzia Nicodemi-Ehikioya
Sarah Waters, Author, reader and ex-library assistant
Sarah Harris, Author
Elizabeth Ash, Croydon Libraries campaigner
Revd Al Barrett
Diane Ashman
R Sweet, PhD student
R. Lennard,  Friends of Preston Library / Brent SOS.
David R Joyce, Gloucestershire                                                                                                  Kirsty Derson, Mum and Primary School Teacher
Rev. Clodagh Ingram                                                                                                                       Sarah Lewis-Newton, Library Manager, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine                                                                                                                                       Nicola Solomon, General Secretary of the Society of Authors                                                 Andrew Coburn, The Library Campaign                                                                                      The Friends of York Gardens Library, Wandsworth                                                                 Ingar Palmlund PhD                                                                                                                       Frank Daniels, Retired music librarian
Rory Clements                                                                                                                                Denise Meredith                                                                                                                            Linda Stratmann, Author
Caroline Scaramanga                                                                                                                  Theresa Watt, Labour Town Councillor, Stonehouse, Gloucestershire                                   Andrew Swanston, Author and library user                                                                                Gillian Bagwell
Ben Kane, Novelist                                                                                                                   Jaqueline Mitchell, Library user                                                                                                     Jess Egerton                                                                                                                                       Dot Singelton                                                                                                                                  William Starkey                                                                                                                          Emma Mercer, Librarian                                                                                                                Hazel Wright, Solicitor                                                                                                                         D. Ellam                                                                                                                                       Gaynor Sorrell, An American friend of Gloucestershire libraries
R. Crockett, Chinnor Library Group                                                                                              Marie-Louise Jensen                                                                                                                  Andrew Watt, Student                                                                                                                  David Smith, Acting Chairman, Friends of Wool Library, Dorset

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376 Responses to Joint open letter to Ed Vaizey – please consider signing and circulating

  1. While I am not part of a library user group I fully support this move and the contents of this letter. Many thanks again for all your work to protect our library services particularly for those in greatest need for those services.

  2. Julie Higgins says:

    Dear Mr. Vaizey,
    I used to work in a number of libraries in my borough (Wandsworth) and can assure you that they were very well used, by children from a very young age to elderly people. In the children’s libraries there were stories to listen to as well as read, competitions, drawings to add to whatever decor was needed at the time. Kindles cannot replicate the experience of going in to a library and sharing books with friends. Please do your best to ensure that this public service, which is extremely important to communities, does not fade into obscurity.

  3. Mike Penny says:

    The decision to close so many libraries in Gloucestershire, has been poorly thought through, not only in terms of access for those with disabilities, but also in relation to value for money, never mind our cultural heritage. Culture being one of the areas which our County’s Cabinet government seem to have very little regard for.

  4. Councillor Paul Lorber Liberal Democrat Group Leader Lodnon Borough of Brent says:

    While I was Leader of Brent Council between June 2006 to May 2010 we protected our Libraries and invested in them – depsite officer advice to rationalise and close some. We recognised that the service needed to provide value for money and be attractive to new users. Instead of closures we emabarked on investment and sharing of services. A Children Centre was incorporated into one Library, Adult Education service into two others. We increased investment in the annula book stock. We were developing our Libraries into local commmunity hubs.

    It is tragic that the Labour Administration which took over in May 2010 accepted officer advice and decided to close 6 (half) of our Libraries. It is equally tragic that Ed Vaizey who was happy to posture as the champion of Libraries while in opposition has suddenly lost interest and is now betraying Library users across the UK who seemed so important to him when he needed their votes.

    I am happy to add my name to the letter.

    • Ailsa Royston. Mrs says:

      From Friends of Sherborne Library, Dorset
      from Secretary. Ailsa Royston.

      We are one of the retained core Libraries in this County, and have strongly supported all attempts by Ad Lib, Association of Friends of Dorset Libraries,to save the 20 Libraries that Dorset wished to close. This is now down to nine who are facing being placed outside Statutory responibility,
      They are trying to cope with the overwhelming task of keeping their Libraries open, outside the 1964 Act ,raising funds and finding volunteers, as well as realising the pitfalls of the community managed system on offer.
      The public in these areas are being denied their rights as equals with other citizens in Dorset,
      May we see some action Mr Vaisey, you are now the Government.

      What they want is their rights under the 1964 Act,

  5. Pingback: Proposed open letter to Ed Vaizey | Alan Gibbons’ Blog

  6. Liz Brownlee says:

    Dear Mr Vaizey, Please do support the library service. i have used the library since i was a child – it was a wonderful way to read authors I may never have come into contact with just using a bookshop. My family is not disadvantaged, but we have used the library since our children were small to add to their contact with literature of all types… my daughter has just written her first (published) book aged 23. I am an author – I use the library for research, and the internet just does not have the depth of information I need to write. But I could never afford all the information I need to read – the library is crucial. We go every week – and it is a busy library, full of people doing all sorts of things, all sorts of people together. Once gone, a massive resource will be denied to future generations, no matter how many computers and kindles exist.

  7. As a member of a readers’ group, we find the services offered by our local libraries invaluable; they help keep us up-to-date with book suggestionas for our group, as well as providing books for us and they host special book group events, where we meet and can talk to authors. Libraries help keep reading alive for all members of the local community. They are meeting points, information centres and they are essential, for all age ranges, in keeping literacy at the heart of all local communities.

  8. Jan Kitchin says:

    As a child I was taken to our local library by my dad every week & became an avid reader. I took my daughter to our local libraries near our 5 different homes all over the country , relying on mobile libraries in the 2 villages where we lived – she is now a librarian! As a teacher, I have arranged library visits for primary classes, & as a result children joined the library. Those who cannot afford daily newspapers, journals & computers can access them in local libraries. Libraries are precious resources & we should support them at all costs.

  9. Jo Woods says:

    Jo Woods, Brent School Librarians Forum – We wholeheartedly support this campaign and hope that this government and future governments will see fit not only to stop the erosion of any library service, but also to invest more money into this wonderful service.

  10. Please add Save Doncaster Libraries to the list of signatories. We are currently in the process of discussing our situation with Solicitors, so watch this space…

  11. Dear Mr Vaizey,

    Your party, and yourself, have been in power for over a year and a half now, after noisily proclaiming the importance of libraries when in opposition (and pitching for power). You have, at the most, less than three and a half years until the next general election.

    If you stay silent – and more importantly, inactive – for much longer, it will be difficult to conclude anything other than that you vocally defend libraries ONLY when there’s an election approaching and you want and need votes.

    Voters don’t forget. Your call.

  12. J Harrison says:

    I have always been an avid reader and, after teaching for many years, am now fortunate to hold the position of School Librarian. When my children were young we would visit the local library, as a weekly treat and also during school holidays, when wonderful ,book-related activities would be held by the librarian. My younger daughter can’t get enough of books, and without the room to store, or the money to buy the many books we as a family enjoy, our local library is a lifeline. I fight daily battles with reluctant and/or struggling readers who need time and resources to entice them into the wonderful world of books. Our school library is as well stocked as funding will allow, but I use our local library to borrow books I can’t afford, in order to tempt those who haven’t been given the opportunity to experience books at home. I know of elderly people who use the library to read newspapers and meet with others just to see a friendly face. Libraries are precious and must be supported and funded, not closed.

  13. Lesley Mumbray-Williams says:

    Mr Vaizey, I’m signing this open letter not just on behalf of my family but on behalf of the 1,020 pupils and the 100 staff at my school. School libraries depend on the support they should be receiving from School Library Services and pupils and teachers need the back-up provision of an excellent public library service. Currently in many parts of the country, pupils have neither. Please invest in the future by helping people of all ages to educate themselves in the widest sense.

  14. Robert Swindells says:

    Public and school libraries have been neglected for many years. Bring them back to their former status – the future depends on these resources.
    Robert Swindells – Author
    Brenda Swindells – Retired Teacher/ Librarian

  15. Fiona Crawford says:

    Fiona Crawford, School Librarians Network
    I currently work with Sixth Form students and encourage them to use the public library stock to support their research. Many are doing extended essays for History, Englsih and the EPQ. They have slowly come to realise that the internet does not provide free information at the quality and depth that they need and that the school library just isn’t big enough to meet their needs.Or rich enough to buy into expensive databases.
    We use the County Library catalogue frequently and depend on public library loans to the students. We even managed to find, in the County service, an audio version of an academic book about the Magna Carta for one registered-blind student,. What a range of information they provide- not just the bestsellers and the popular stuff!
    Detracters of the public library service seem to assume that it’s all about issuing cheap thrillers and romances on a Saturday morning – overlooking the wealth of study support offered, particularly for minority interests.
    Public libraries provide a comprehensive and efficient service, despite decades of low investment for some. There is nothing you could do “on the cheap” that could replace them

  16. Roger Drury- Coleford Festival of Words says:

    In Rural communities the library has become the single place where you can share social time without having to buy something, access to newspapers you might not otherwise consider reading.
    The mobile service a direct service link to 100 places in Gloucestershire which have no other resource. Libraries were started by people who wanted to enrich their lives and their communities they should be promoted, not starved, they offer access to education, information,culture, empowerment, entertainment which can then be shared with the rest of our lives. Literacy is a human right, words are a human currency, withdraw your threats, invest in people and books. I support the letter to ED Vaizey and hope it will be read and responded to, and acted upon.

  17. Sue Parr says:

    As a school librarian and mother of three, libraries have been essential to myself and family. Our lives are enriched , our minds educated. We should do everything we can to protect local public libraries and ensure that school libraries do not suffer too.

  18. Joan Lennon says:

    We need our libraries even more in times of recession. I support this letter.

  19. And please don’t forget the importance of school libraries, so many of which are under threat and which no longer have the support of the local Schools Library Service because they have been cut as well.

  20. L. Miller says:

    What next…burn the books?

  21. Sibyl says:

    I am really concerned not just about closures but about library cuts – the reductions to service that some authorities are putting forward as an alternative to closures. This is what’s happening in Birmingham, the biggest local authority in Europe. The city has rising unemployment. If young people don’t have access to well resourced local libraries, thier prospects are further damaged….

  22. Christine Rance says:

    As a School Librarian and an avid reader I am signing this letter in the hope that future generations will have the Library service available to them as myself and my family have enjoyed over the years.

  23. conwaycoltman@yahoo.com says:

    Libraries are our link to the Enlightenment, to the idea that our horizons are unlimited. We diminish them at our peril.

    Barry Conway Branch Secretary Bolton N.U.T.

  24. Ed Zaghini says:

    We should be investing in public libraries rather than closing them down. How can we expect to increase literacy levels when children are deprived of books and reading materials? In time of financial crisis, the desicion of closing libraries is a big mistake as people need access to information and support.

  25. Sarah Howard says:

    Living in a deprived area of Gloucester I was horrified when the closure of our local library was announced, and over a three week period managed to get over 500 local signatures asking GCC to reconsider its closing.
    Our library is now not only a learning centre, but hosts numerous circles of friends who come together and enjoy each others company whilst knitting, crotcheting, being taught computer skills and family history sessions, led by experienced researchers.
    The majority of these are people who would never had met otherwise, and probably see very few others from week to week.
    It would be a tragedy if our library was to close leaving our area with nowhere for all these people to meet, with the loss of our only learning centre, for the children who pile in every week- day after school to use the computers and for the elderly who find comfort in being able to borrow books locally instead of having to travel into the central library.

  26. Helen Ledger says:

    As a secondary school librarian and former public librarian I am certain of the link between children’s attainment and reading. The recent National Literacy Trust report The Gift of Reading in 2011,highlights that only 1 in 3 children own their own book and looks at attainment levels for those who have read regularly and those who have not, those not reading fall significantly behind readers. Closing public libraries will mean that these children will have even less likelyhood of reading than before.
    The reduction of services to pre-school children and their parents – a cornerstone of children’s library provision in the last decades will add significanlty to the failure of children to develop a love of books and reading and their attainment of literacy skills.

  27. Lynne Collis says:

    Dear Mr Vaisey,
    as a child I devoured the books in my local library – we could never have afforded to buy them all. As a mature student studying for a railway engineering PhD remote from my university campus (I am also running my own engineering business) I still rely on my local library in Kent to order books. Would I be doing all this without library access- probably not.
    Today life is even harder for the young – they need access to books and all the library services.
    I support the letter to Ed Vaisey and request that support for libraries is restored – we all need this resource.

  28. Frankie Luxmoore-Peake says:

    The closure of public libraries in such great numbers presents a national cultural tragedy as reopening them in the promise of an improved economic climate is an unlikely scenario.

  29. mardixon says:

    Hi Ed, It’s Mar – again.

    Seriously, how much longer are we going to be forced to show the value that libraries bring to people of all ages, creed and backgrounds before you get it Ed? We’ve discussed this issue, I know you’re not the devil in disguised – I know there are ‘issues’ but really, can’t you take your politician’s hat off for just a moment and look at things through a library user’s eyes? See how and why we are so passionate and distraught over this whole situation?

    I recognize that some libraries should be closed, I recognize that some councils have or are trying their best to ensure they do whatever they can to avoid this situation. We’re ok with them. It’s the councils that are selfishly closing libraries as the easy target because the counsellors themselves no longer use them. They are selfish because they are not thinking about the hundreds within the council that still do need them.

    Libraries should not be measured on numbers. Libraries should be measured on the difference they make to the people and the community. Just look at the thousands of responses from my tweet of January 16th ‘Libraries are important because ‘ – the majority of answers talked about how libraries got people back to work, go them more involved in the community, retrained them, taught them to read, gave them confidence … the list goes on.

  30. Anna Baker says:

    When I had my first baby none of my friends had babies and i didn’t realise how loney I would be. The local library was a life saver and holds baby bounce sessions and also information of other free childrens sessiosn. It is also used by a lot of disabled people that I care for. I support the letter to ED Vaizey and hope it will be read and responded to, and acted upon.

  31. Libraries are, and should remain at, the heart of each community. They provide essential services for all, but particularly for children, elderly and unemployed, and should be supported – not undermined. Along with theatres, museums and galleries libraries preserve, inform and develop our cultural heritage. How can we become a literate, intelligent and productive nation without this shared resource?

  32. I live in the middle of nowhere in Norfolk, and the library van which visits the village once every three weeks is a very welcome sight in a place that has no shops, no public transport, and only cows for company! Reading enriches people’s lives, and libraries have for so long offered a wonderful avenue for the imaginations of readers of all ages and persuasions. Any closure of this service is a sad step towards a society where people are no longer informed, enlightened or even entertained by the wonder of books and the other services that libraries offer.

  33. We are bitterly disappointed that Oxfordshire CC has voted through their plans to cut staffing levels at Oxfordshires’ libraries by up to 50%. Our small but much loved rural library in Sonning Common, South Oxfordshire (and it’s closest neighbours), are being hardest hit, and expected to find 40-60 volunteers each to replace trained librarians. Our local libraries are not failing – visitor numbers continue to rise. Our libraries are linked and supported by the local schools, with several village primaries relying on the libraries to provide books and advise during projects. How does it make sense to cut experienced staff levels in such valuable resources when the savings made will be pitiful? Please ACT NOW – it may already be too late for Oxfordshires’ rural libraries.

  34. A Ross says:

    I am very concerned about the future of libraries in this country, it seems that many administrations all over the country see the Library service as an easy option when it comes to making cuts and yet we have heard nothing from the minister.
    I Suffolk we are still not sure about the future of the service as the Tory County Council seem to make it up as they go along
    Alasdair Ross
    Labour Cllr in Ipswich

  35. Mr Vaizey – I am a secondary school librarian, who has also worked in public libraries. I have always relied very heavily on the support of public libraries, especially since Kent lost their effective SLS a few years ago. I also use my own public library, and there are always children in there either getting books for homework, or looking things up on the computers. It is disgraceful that you are looking to take away these rights from children, who will not necessarily even have access to the internet at home. We have done surveys in our school about how many students have internet at home, and it is by no means every child. So where are they meant to look things up? – the public libraries, because not every school considers school libraries to be an important part of their provision any more. Instead of being an information rich society, without libraries we will become an increasingly information poor one. Your call – Caroline Roche, School Librarian,

  36. Jenni Hall says:

    I joined the local library when I was 3. Sixty yeas later I am still a member taking books, CDs and DVDs regularly. I also go to a reading group at my local library. Young people and students do their homework there. Young children listen to stories. Everyone has access to worlds that delight, sustain and educate them. people trace families, get advice are redirected to sources of help and support. Housebound people have home delivery. Few places are as accessible, positive and egalitarian. As a user, a parent, a disabled person and avid reader and self educator I am distressed that budget controllers seek to destroy a service the value of which is immeasurable.

  37. Alan Wylie says:

    As a Librarian and Library Campaigner I am dismayed at the total lack of leadership and vision in the sector and at the ‘hollowing out’ and dismantling of a precious public service. With the imminent catastrophic rise in unemployment and the all ready low levels of literacy in the UK it is imperative that we maintain a properly funded and resourced public library service, this doesn’t mean hiving it off to volunteers, trusts or private firms, this is not what the vast majority of users want! Please act now before it is too late!

  38. Julia Green says:

    I write in full support of this letter. The need for well-stocked, up-to-date, contemporary libraries with a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books, music, film and other resources is as necessary today as ever. More so, even. Reading changes lives. It opens doors. It creates a feeling of empathy in a reader. Libraries are at the heart of a community and the mark of a civilised society.
    Julia Green, author.

  39. Katherine Langrish says:

    Free access not only to books themselves but to the informed advice about books (such as what to read next, suggestions about which books a child might cope with at various ages, how to use a catalogue, where to find further information, etc) which a trained librarian can provide, seems to me such a basic necessity for a country which hopes to promote literacy, that I can hardly believe we are having to argue for it. I support this letter and wish to add my name to the signatories.

  40. Bridget Rogers says:

    With literacy rates falling and young people described as unemployable now is not the time to close our libraries. During a time of rising unemployment access to free information and books has never been more important.
    We talk about raising standards in schools whilst cutting back on their libraries and qualified staff and closing or reducing access to the public library service. This double whammy will do irreparable damage to future generations and it’s their future we’re gambling with.
    Access to a well-funded, properly staffed library service is a right and is not something we can replace with well-meaning volunteers and a few second-hand paperbacks.

  41. I would not be an author today if it were not for my wonderful local library, just a mile from my home. I came from a family which, although keen on books, could not afford to buy many of them. My love of literature came from my visits to Pontefract library in the 1960s. Please don’t deny other children this opportunity. Libraries need to be small, friendly, accessible and close to home. Please remember your pledges made in opposition. Please resist these cuts to library services. They are not an option – they are not dispensible. Our children are depending on you.

  42. Elizabeth Bentley, School Librarians' Network says:

    I could not agree more with this call on Mr Vaizey to act now to ensure that libraries are properly protected. Free access to information is a fundamental pillar of a true democracy, and one that is in grave danger of simply fading away. People do not just need access to resources, they also need help and guidance in accessing and using those resources, which is where the professionalism of the librarian is crucial. Alongside the public library, the school library and librarian is also a vital part of that service. Proper protection would ensure that all students had access to that support, whereas the current situation allows headteachers to remove, or never institute, it.

  43. Colin Campbell - Retired Head of Library Services says:

    There is a need to protect the most vulnerable in our society as well as having an open door to learning and literacy. Access is critical and should be available in rural areas, which are not well provided by public bus services, through mobile library provision. The service needs to maintain high professional standards and should not be left in the hands of volunteers.

  44. Steve Barlow says:

    Somerset’s response to the High Court ruling has been more measured than that seen in Gloucestershire, but while the County Council has promised to engage with human rights organisations over its next consultation, we have seen no willingness to talk constructively with library users. We therefore fear more lengthy ‘consultations’ followed by service reductions that will impact most painfully on those most in need of the services libraries provide. It is time that Her Majesty’s Government came off the fence, stopped blaming every planned reduction on local authorities, and gave clear guidance on library provision. While we are slipping down international league tables for literacy and when, according to a recent National Literacy Trust report, one in three children does not own even one book, it is stark lunacy to run down the library service or leave it in the hands of willing but untrained volunteers.

  45. The provision of libraries nationwide made a huge impact on the British way of life, all of it good. How could any politician bear to be the one held responsible for dismantling such a heritage? It could never be put back, and huge numbers of people would be the worse off for its loss.
    Please add my name to the signators.

  46. Support for UK libraries extends beyond its borders to all those who support equitable societies and believe that access to information, knowledge and creative resources are essential for building and sustaining successful economies and nations.

  47. Jackie Murrell, School Librarian says:

    Cutting libraries will harm some of the most vulnerable people in the country- the elderly, the unemployed, young parents, the lower earners, students and perhaps most of all, children. Do we really want a less literate nation?

  48. It’s been said, I think rightly, that good libraries are a sure sign of a civilised people. However, as an English Adviser in the 80s I watched powerless the start of the gradual erosion: first the School Library Service, then the School Library itself and now the Public Library system. I worry about what will take their place and what our society will look like in twenty years time. The mismatch between calls for higher standards in reading and writing while the means to attain them are being directly assaulted is truly gross.

  49. Friends of Milborne Port Library, Somerset says:

    Very disappointed with lack of leadership.

  50. Rosanna Stevenson says:

    Going to the library was a really pivotal part of my childhood. Those visits helped turn me into an avid reader and it is the same for children of friends I have now – the groups and clubs help support mums as well as introduce young children to stories. As an English teacher, I think the link between attainment and reading is clear, and it would be such a mistake to start closing libraries now.

  51. Mary Hoffman says:

    Mary Hoffman (writer of children and teenagers)
    I support this letter and would like to be counted one of its signatories. I have been fighting to stop libraries from closing for twenty-one years, first when I lived in London and Labour-controlled Haringey wanted to shut Hornsey library right up to now in Tory-controlled Oxfordshire, where I have been supporting Bampton library.

    This is not party-political; it is because of a passionate belief in the importance of a free well-stocked public library service and properly qualified librarians. We are living in a have and have-not culture financially; please let us not end up the same culturally.

  52. Dave Quigley says:

    It is heartening to see so many comments being added. It would appear that Ed Vaizey is more than content to do nothing to protect our libraries, this in itself is a gross dereliction of his statutory duty. I have today asked my entire mailing list to consider adding their comments. I am a 70 year old ex professional soldier and for the last 15 years of my working life, a teacher. Many children’s only interface with reading books is via the library, these library cuts will be detrimental to the education of these children and thus the future of our country. Now is the time to stand up and be counted

  53. Trevor Craig says:

    For a lot of people, especially those in groups hit hardest by recession, the library is the only place they can go to improve their aspirations and life chances by having free access to information and learning. Libraries should and can improve and innovate, but please don’t let councils use this as a excuse for pushing through cuts, either through closure or by forcing people to volunteer. Volunteers already make the library service better, making them staff the service takes away the extra value the existing volunteers bring to their community libraries. If we are going to compete with China and India in future decades the only natural resource available will be our minds. Please protect the very thing that creates aspiration, innovation and ideas.
    Trevor Craig,
    Friends of Wychwood Library (Oxfordshire)

  54. Gaynor Lloyd says:

    I can think of nothing less likely to help social cohesion than the closure of libraries in my Borough of Brent. When my daughter was small, the trip to Barham Park and the Barham library building was one of the highlights of the week – sharing a book with me and her fvriends who often came along and we often sat on the floor reading her choices sometimes with another child just wandering up and joiining in the informal reading circle – making friends, acquiring a lifetime love of reading as a shared experience and beginning the social responsibility of borrowing something that isn’t yours (not to mention the wonder of thatt first time sherealised you can take all those books home with you) , looking after them properly and taking themt back together- to begin the wonderful process all over again. Why shoudl that physical experience of sharing a book, the enjoyment of that experience and learning to be a part of a responsible society be taken away from generations coming after? I have seen the sheer incredulity on the faces of those coming to our librarynow to find it shut to be told they can have a better experience a mile or so away and/or “over the net”. They used to love our lovely calm space in a beautiful park in a building left on trust for the public recreation of the people of Wembley – now lying empty and abandoned. Local users stood ready to help the Council run it in a time of general need but my Council decided that they knew a better way. I am happy to add my name to this open letter and hope Mr Vaizey helps us get back a proper library service.

  55. That I gained a doctorate and first class honours degree at Oxford from a background where there were three books in the house and not much pocket money to buy books is in large part because of my well-stocked, friendly and professionally-run local library as a child. I know scientists who are now at the forefront of the country’s vital research who, like me, believe that libraries helped to foster their interests. But libraries are not just about borrowing books. They are valued community places where older people can read newspapers and magazines, where mothers can take their children to storytimes and encourage them to develop a love of storytelling. At a time when more and more families have little left over to buy books, it is imperative that our society provides a free access to knowledge. I seriously doubt that I would have been able to go on to achieve academic success if it had not been for those early, priceless experiences discovering the world of books in my library.
    Cuts to our library services will blight the lives of many – both now and in the future.

  56. Ian Anstice says:

    Dear Ed. I have been chronicling the savage cuts to public libraries for the last year on Public Libraries News. I would also have been willing to chronicle your reaction to them. However, you don’t appear to have done anything. There was, still is, a clear chance for you to stand up and do what you believe in. In these straitened times, sitting down and doing nothing is not a viable option for any public employee, Mr Vaizey. Least of all you.

    • Got it in one, Ian.
      This pussy footing around, and that is the politest I can say,will lead to the death of the public library service in this country. It is clear the piranhas in local government are determined to gobble it away.
      Local services need to be local, accessible and available, in the case of llibraries, “comprehensive and efficient.” How many more times does it have to be said?
      Pastricia Richardson

  57. kmlockwood says:

    As a writer, as a learner, as a human being, I want you to save libraries for our future. Cuts to libraries disenfranchise ordinary people.

  58. Debi Richens says:

    When I was a child the library was my sanctuary, when I was a teenager it the was place that I backed up my education with research, as a young adult I learned more about looking after myself and moving forward with life and, as an older adult it has been my life’s blood for setting up my business. In turn, the library was a way to boost my daughter’s education, her reading skills and her knowledge of the world around her.

    If we lose our libraries, we lose the most important part of any child’s education, most adults sanity, and all of those in between who have other groups linked to their libraries i.e, mother & child reading groups, elderly reading groups, credit unions, youth groups, museums etc, etc, etc!

    Ed, please take heed of all of us that speak for the most important part of our culture and heritage. Please remember that there are many who are disadvantaged, who will lose their only way of changing their lives for the better. Our country is suffering enough, without this most vital of services, we will not have a future to speak of as we will have an illiterate general society!

    Many poiliticians have had the benefit of a ‘paid’ education and will have had access to libraries that we can only dream of. Do you really want to take us back to before the Industrial Revolution, to a time when only the ‘Elite’ had access to books and other learned information? What then for the United Kingdom, will we slip back from the 21st century to somewhere back in the 17th century?
    Listen to those of us who speak or one day, you will abhor the position that you currently hold and will regret your chance to do something incredibly wonderful for the people and the here and now!

  59. Jane Langton says:

    I retired from Somerset library service at the end of September this year. Before that I was working flat out to try to keep elderly and housebound people in remote rural areas supplied with books – a lifeline for all of them. Their former supply had been cut off because the Council economies had forced cuts in the mobile service from 6 vans to 2. Volunteers filled some of the gaps, but because they often have other things on their minds they cannot be relied upon. Mr Vaizey, please understand how important the professional library service is – not just to the housebound but to children who do not own books and to many, many others – and please act to keep libraries open and fulfilling their purpose.

  60. Geoff and Liz Dubber says:

    Please add our names: Geoff and Liz Dubber
    The Minister should be reminded of the words of the wise:
    “At the moment that we persuade a child, any child, to cross that threshold, that magic threshold into a library, we change their lives forever, for the better.”
    — President (then Senator) Barak Obama, 2005
    and
    “If this nation is to be wise as well as strong, if we are to achieve our destiny, then we need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries. These libraries should be open to all.” — Senator John F. Kennedy, October 1960
    (A pity Jack Kennedy forgot to mention women though!)

  61. Debbie Noyce says:

    Having taken our two children to our local library since they were toddlers and them having their own library cards since before they could read, we found ourselves with two avid readers and could never have afforded the copious number of books they wanted to read and that went on to fuel their fertile imaginations. Now that they are adults, we all continue to use libraries not only for pleasure but to further our knowledge and education. For a lot of people the link between libraries and fulfilling their potential is vital, please don’t close these important resouces down.

  62. Barbara Band says:

    Please add my name: Barbara Band, School Librarian
    I totally support this letter. As a life-long reader, strange new worlds were opened up to me via the books I read from my public library. My parents certainly could not have supplied me with the amount and variety of material that I waded through. Reading was a shared love with my father, someone who had left school at the age of 14 with no qualifications and yet had a tremendous knowledge of the world obtain solely through reading. Both my daughters belong to the public library and, now adults, still use their local branches. And, as a mother, I could not have fostered their love of reading without my own local library. Finally, as a school librarian, I experience first hand children who use and need their public libraries and it is the first place I recommend whenever I am unable to fulfill a resource requirement from my own stock. Public libraries need to survive for the benefit of future generations.

  63. Adrian Couper says:

    Libraries are a great public resource .

  64. Ian Charlesworth says:

    Our future English teachers will be sat in libraries on rainy winter days; soaking up everything that is good about the world. Please don’t destroy them.

  65. Biddy Fisher says:

    Keeping our Public Libraries open and available to all members of our communities should be a matter of national pride. It should be fully recognised that Public Libraries add to literacy levels and skills developments that will in turn provide hope for our next generations.My hope is that all those involved in the decisions about one of the greatest national resources this country has will not squander the heritage that is in their hands. I trust that their record will be one of long term vision, not short term expediency.

  66. Connie says:

    I add my name to this petition as an avid writer and reader of books. Without all the free books I was able to access through libraries growing up I will be less than half the person I am today.

  67. Alison Gibbs says:

    The government (and local councils) are ignoring the wishes of the people. We will not stand for this!

  68. Janine says:

    If you take away libraries you are taking away access to learning and information. You take away the opportunity for those who who don’t know how to access the right information for them to get help that they need.

    You are denying those who cannot afford to fill their homes with books, or a reliable internet connection, access to these resources.

    You are taking away people’s autonomy, and the kind of people who are willing to do that have no right to take part in running this country, as you clearly do not understand the basic needs of our communities.

    Please add my name, Janine Williamson.

  69. Christina Franklin, Library Lover says:

    When the idea of free, accessible literature to the masses is under threat, you know you can’t keep calm and carry on any longer.

  70. Jeanette Greaves
    My happiest childhood memory is of choosing a book from the pre-schoolers box at the branch library on our council estate. We moved, another council estate, another library, and at this one I read through the kids section and graduated to the adults section, with the help of my mum’s tickets. I learned how to conduct research at the local Carnegie library (remember wealthy philanthropists?). It’s not just about nostalgia though, it’s about having an available, quiet, public space in which to do your homework, when you share a room with two siblings and the telly is always on in the living room.

  71. Please leave our libraries, the most wonderful and exciting thing in our society, alone.
    Jonathan Paxton
    Bedfordshire

  72. The future of our economy depends on a well-educated population. The public library service should be developed, not cut, to continue this work. Furthermore, the widest possible access to the most impartial sources of information is critical to the healthy functioning of a democratic society.

  73. (1) Our economic future depends on a well-educated population; public libraries should be developed, not cut, to help achieve this. (2) As information and literature become the property of commercial providers (Amazon, Google, Microsoft, News International, et al) we need places where it can be freely found. Libraries are a critical part of a democratic society.

  74. Rachel Stead says:

    Happy to add my name to this letter. I am keen for my daughter to be able to walk into a library when she is an adult, not look at one in a history book and say “I remember libraries, Mum”.

  75. Liz Rodwell says:

    DO NOT CLOSE DOWN LIBRARIES. They are valuable and precious resources and once they have been shut, it is final… they will never be reinstated because it will be too costly to replace experienced staff, buildings and books. Do not be the person who goes down in history as the one that wiped out libraries for ever. Once they are gone, they are GONE.

  76. robhogg says:

    I support this move, and am very pleased by the court victory won by the campaigners. Public libraries are essential for ensuring the right to information for the general public, widening access to online resources, and have an important role in edcuation. They are also vital for vulnerable and isolated people.

    I would urge everyone who supports this, to also consider signing Ruth Bond’s petition on the Government epetitions website: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/1269

  77. Helen Farrar says:

    I fully support this letter; please add my name to the list of signatories.

    In the words of Isaac Asimov, “[A library] isn’t just a library. It is a space ship that will take you to the farthest reaches of the Universe, a time machine that will take you to the far past and the far future, a teacher that knows more than any human being, a friend that will amuse you and console you – and most of all, a gateway, to a better and happier and more useful life.”
    Please keep this gateway open to all instead of bricking it up and hoping nobody will notice.

  78. Lucy Farmer says:

    I live in one of the towns that is having the hours slashed to 2 mornings and 1 day a week which makes it almost impossible to use the service.

  79. Jane Stemp says:

    As a library user, librarian and author I have a triple reason to support this letter and all the libraries in the country. Dear Mr Vaisey, libraries are and always have been not only about books, but also about more than books. To treat them as a disposable trimming to society is to take away some of the foundations on which our society is built. Please take notice of your electorate!

  80. Katie Faulkner – PhD student and editor, Courtauld Institute of Art
    Dear Mr Vaisey,
    While I was fortunate enough to have books at home as I grew up, trips to the library with my mother and my sister were always a highlight and instilled a real excitement about literature and independent learning. The possibilities for enlightenment and the sharing of knowledge and experiences that take place in any library are invaluable. Learning should be social and libraries should be the place for this. Please do all you can to safeguard this vital public service for us all.

  81. I’m not a leader of any library group, I’m just a student, can I still be on this list? I study Linguistics and part of the reason I picked an English based degree is because I spent a lot of my younger days in the local library just reading books. I can’t remember what the point of this was, but just don’t get rid of libraries, okay? Cheers.

  82. Christine Theophilus says:

    As a newly retired resident of an area where the library has been forced to close after copper cable theft from the roof, my worst fear is that it will never re-open. In a deprived area this will be the death knell for children wanting to improve their education, young unemployed trying hard to better themselves, and all the social groups (including the U3A) who rely on the library to enhance their feeling of community spirit. Do not be the person who goes down in history as the one that wiped out libraries for ever. Once they are gone, they are GONE.

  83. John Dolan OBE says:

    Libraries = ideas, information, learning, culture, media, writers, artists, performance, place, people, action, community, freedom, life … hold onto them

  84. Christine Higginbottom - Library User says:

    I have been a library user since I was a child. Libraries to me have always been magical places. The anticipation of what may be discovered on a library visit has always been thrilling to me. These precious places must be preserved for the benefit of the whole community. Libraries provide an education for all. Libraries provide a gateway into infinite pleasure.

  85. Councillor Klara Sudbury, Cabinet Member for Housing and Safety Cheltenham Borough Councill says:

    Being able to use a decent library service has been an enormous positive throughout my whole life. It played a massive role in enabling me to get a place at Oxford University as a mature student from a not very well off background. I loved going to the library as a child to be able to read books I otherwise would have not been able to. As a teenager, I still often visited the main library in Cheltenham to take out biographies on the people I looked up to. As an adult I was able to take out books on housing and social issues which helped me do well in my A Levels and win a place at Oxford. I am still a regular visitor, along with my youngest son who loves to read. We need to protect libraries for the good of individuals, families and communities to find the joy of reading books, get access to the information they need or to access IT equipment etc.

  86. Philip Bromberg (Friends of Preston Library/Brent SOS Libraries) says:

    Mr Vaizey, Last week one of your officials told me (somewhat wearily) that over 1000 letters from Brent had landed on her desk. Thousands have signed our petitions, and thousands (perhaps tens of thousands) more have given money for our legal challenge to Brent’s closures. How much longer will we have to wait for you to say something about this?

  87. Chris Meade says:

    I’ll sign please. Libraries are just as essential now that information can be accessed online as local cultural and community hubs, a place to meet, collaborate, learn, work and dream together.
    Chris Meade, Director if:book, think and do tank exploring the future of the book
    (digital writer and Unlibrarian at the if:book cafe, run as a community enterprise at Hornsey Library, Haringey – previously Director of Booktrust and the Poetry Society)

  88. Flourishing libraries are the sign of a civilised and inclusive society. The Tories destruction of them indicates again, if further indication were needed, that they have no respect for culture or democracy.
    Molly Scott Cato, Green Party Councillor, Valley Ward, Stroud District Council and author.

  89. Keith Wolton says:

    My local library, East Cowes, is one of 5 on the Isle of Wight that are now run by volunteers. The opening hours have been cut from 30 hours to just 12 hours per week during the course of this year. Sadly it is no longer the same inspiring bolt hole that someone like me with mental health issues depends upon in more difficult periods. The experienced, paid staff, have been made redundant or moved elsewhere and their skills in presenting the stock in an enticing manner and their interaction with users has been lost, despite the well meaning efforts of volunteers. As a parent and former primary school teacher, I am aware of the need to provide all children with the opportunity to access books for learning and enjoyment and am concerned at the expectation that children have access to the internet for such; access to the internet is not universal and I fear that lower levels of literacy within sectors of society may coincide with lack of access to both books and the internet.

    Mr Vaizey, I hope that you will have the vision and see the link between the retention of a professional and widespread public library service and the resultant levels of literacy, lifelong education and as a focus for the local community. Libraries promote personal growth and happiness and help to bring footfall to our local shops.

  90. Isabel Ashdown says:

    When I was growing up I was lucky enough to live in the same road as my village library. I spent hours there, reading, browsing, discovering new voices and ideas. Undoubtedly, it fed into my own desire to write, into my developing sense of the world. Without books, a child’s internal world must surely be restricted – and without libraries, for many children, books may well slip further from reach. I urge you to act, Mr Vaizey, in protecting our libraries today. Yours, Isabel Ashdown (author)

  91. Mark Gallagher, Sixth Form Librarian says:

    I am convinced public libraries remain one of the key public spheres, a place not simply to discover literature, (delivered in an increasingly diverse forms of media) to study but also to meet and discuss in a neutral arena where favour is not curried by class, age, gender or ethnicity. Libraries have been and remain a beacon for liberal society and the proposed closures, restructuring of access and swinging cuts to professional staff in many council areas will do irreparable harm to individuals, families and local communities. Mr Vaizy, library services, when run with passion, professionalism and most importantly the active involvement of local communities can deliver so many agendas that this and previous governments have waxed lyrical about; raising aspirations in education and employment, joined up and cost effective delivery of a range of local service information, bridging the digital divide etc. It is time to take on board the plea of so many different people and communities up and down the land and use your ministerial prerogatives to scrutinise overhasty, ill-considered or downright ignorant plans for library closures.

  92. We have been fighting the planned changes to the Suffolk library service for a year now, Mr Vaizey. We have brought these changes to your attention, changes we believe will disadvantage all Suffolk residents and destroy the library service. You sent us, in reply, a pro forma letter, saying that you would intervene when necessary. Well, the time is now. Please, Mr Vaizey, all we are asking is that you do your job, intervene in the shocking destruction of library services around the country. You stood up for libraries when in opposition, why the change of heart?

  93. Richard Beet says:

    I prepared a submission for the last DCMS request for comments on saving Bembridge Library earlier in the year. It was one of hundreds of comments and submissions taken in person to the Department by the Friends of Isle of Wight Library. There was no formal response from the Department then and although the library has been saved thanks to volunteers and the IW Rural Communities Council, it was no thanks to the council or the government who of course are now claiming credit for it. We now have no professional staff in the library and of course will depend on fund-raising. How on earth did it come to this for a country that professes to be a world leader in education and information. Come on Ed, reverse this destructive policy before it is too late!

  94. Please add the ‘School Librarians Network, – comprising hundreds of professional School Librarians sharing best practice, advice and support online’. Thank you. We wholeheartedly support the aims of our fellow professionals, many of whom we work closely with in our professional lives, and indeed many of us have worked in this strand of the information world previously to our current posts. We recognise the complementary value and refute the allegation that any other strand of the information world could replace.

  95. In these times of austerity, we need libraries more than ever. We need to share what little we have, we need to work together, we need our strong communities. Local libraries in Gloucestershire and all over the country provide resources, education, and community: the only way they can continue to do so is if the ministers responsible for protecting them do their duty. The Gloucestershire and Somerset cases demonstrably prove that Mr Vaizey needs to step up, do his job, and be more active in protecting and promoting library services

  96. Elif Varol says:

    Mr Vaizey,
    I work for an academic library but use public libraries very heavily. If you have been to few libraries as a mystery visitor, you’d have seen how much they’ve been used. Not only, they are like a “refuge” to most of us who find comfort in books but also they are the only way to get access to information and education when some of us can’t afford to get it elsewhere. I am sure you wouldn’t want an ignorant and uneducated nation which would bring whole lots of problem to deal with. I don’t think you would like to have that burden on you for the rest of your life so please do something when you have power to do so.
    Thanks in advance.

  97. Anne Robinson says:

    Mr Vaizey, I sat in the audience at the Campaign for the Book Conference in Birmingham some years ago and listened as you passionately defended libraries. Ah, but then you were in opposition. Do you really want to go down in history as “Vaizey, the Closer of Libraries” – because that is certainly how you will be remembered if you continue to sit on your hands whilst this slash and burn of one of our most important public institutions takes place.

    Like many people, I was taken to the public library weekly as a child – my passion for books, reading, learning and libraries developed from a very young age. Coming from a working class family, with not a lot of money, the library opened up a world of imagination and possibility to me. I was able to do well in my education and became a librarian myself because I wanted to give other children the same opportunities that I had been fortunate to get through visits to libraries.

    So, I became a school librarian and have helped thousands of children to develop their reading and information seeking skills. I have a love of technology and support children’s learning using some of the most amazing applications. I am fortunate to work in a school which values its libraries and invests in them because the school community recognises the impact that a library and professional librarian can have on students’ achievement.

    But you and your government are standing back whilst our public libraries, school libraries and schools library services are being smashed to pieces and the professional expertise of librarians is being lost. At the same time politicians bemoan the fact that we are slipping down the league tables for literacy. Perhaps it’s time that you all began to put your expensive education to work and joined the dots? If you allow large swathes of our library services to close, you will be doing irreparable damage to the education of this country’s citizens and also to the legacy of your own government. It will never be forgotten.

  98. Nikki Herriott, Librarian says:

    I work for an authority which fortunately has not closed libraries, but only cut the hours. We have been one of the lucky ones in that respect, but we had a mass of redundancies and to keep up with the day to day work providing a full and consistent service to our readers is extremely difficult.

    We still have a mass of people coming to join the service and use our facilities (not just computers, but to borrow books too believe it or not!) Our story times for children are extremely popular and our numbers of reading groups have increased immeasurably.

    How can there be a justification for the closure of libraries when there is so much positive use and support for us and what we provide?

    Mr Vaizey you are officially opening a new library in January, if you can do this, you can support the libraries in Gloucestershire and others around the country to stop these closures.

  99. Amanda Chorley, former Library Assistant says:

    I’ve have been watching the continued assault on libraries with equal measures of sadness and horror. Not only did I used to work in a public library, but my mum still does, and I have used them all my life and (hopefully) will continue to do so. Thank you for organising this letter.

  100. Nicky Adkins says:

    Dear Mr Vaisey,

    Please support public libraries, their role in supporting and educating a community must not be neglected by councils looking to save money. With the government’s continued refusal to make School Libraries statutory, these are closing at an every increasing rate, making the Public Libraries’ role in supporting literacy all the more important in these hard times. A poll by the National Literacy Trust revealed that one in three children do not own a book. Please ensure that these children have access to reading materials, giving them every chance of a decent education.

  101. Lauren Smith says:

    Libraries play a crucial role in democratic societies, offering universal access to resources for learning and leisure in a unique environment that cannot be replaced, and must be preserved and built upon for future generations. They must be protected by national government with robust and appropriate standards and legislation, not dismantled piece by piece across the UK through the implementation of unsustainable methods of governance, forced upon local authorities who have no time and little alternative but to destroy their own services.

  102. Simon Hart says:

    Public libraries are the vibrant hub at the heart of each community. They’re about much, much more than just books- they’re a safe place people can visit and take place in a wide variety of activities from story times for the very young to reminscence sessions for older people, not to mention the promotion of life long learning of all kinds.
    Really we won’t know what we’ve lost until its gone. Lets hope you wake up to this before it’s too late to save them.

  103. Charlotte Young, artist, writer, reader, library user says:

    Libraries are essential if we wish to have a literate and inclusive society. My local library is always busy, making it clear that it is both wanted and needed. I urge you, Mr. Vaizey, to act swiftly and appropriately in protecting our public libraries from further dismantling.

  104. Julian Owen says:

    Somewhere, there’s a firm of ‘future vision’ consultants being paid a king’s ransom to come up with a building that brings kids off the streets, giving them constructive ideas for the future AND offers community space/higher quality of life to the elderly AND makes good the govt vision for growth based on a knowledge-based economy AND serves an awfully nice cup of tea to boot.
    SAVE LIBRARIES.
    Julian Owen, freelance journalist

  105. Bernadette, writer says:

    We need our libraries more than ever in these cash-strapped times!

  106. Rob McMeekin says:

    I admit I’m not a frequent user of libraries. I’m an avid reader of non-fiction, but tend to buy books outright for myself. However, my attitude toward libraries changed in the last few years when my niece was born and their doting parents used the library service here to great effect, expanding her mind and wonder. She is genuinely enchanted by books and the stories they conjure, making it a delight to send her off to bed with her mind filled with ideas and promise.

    If you seek to close this service to the public, then you are actively stunting the growth of our children, and that is the most basic of analysis. I fear a government that restricts the development of our future.

  107. Elizabeth Chapman says:

    Please add my name!
    Elizabeth Chapman, librarian and researcher (University of Sheffield)

  108. G P Jackson says:

    Children’s Author.
    My ancestor, Cuthbert Roddam, opened the first library in North Shields in the 1780s. We are famed as a nation of book lovers and as a country which has produced some of the most talented and enduring authors on the planet. Libraries are the hothouses where young readers flourish into the authors. Taking that away would be a disaster for our literary future.

  109. Patrick McGinley says:

    I suspect that like many others, I am proud that I have been able to take my children to local libraries, in the way that I was taken myself as a child, and I think that it would be an appalling indictment were my children to be the last to be so blessed.

  110. Everything I might say on this subject has already been covered in other comments, although I would like to express my anger that, in a nominally civilised country, a letter like this should even be necessary. I would expand on that subject, but it would likely become quite insulting to some members of the political class.

    I would like my name added to the letter, please.

    Jonathan L. Howard, author.

  111. Paul Allan says:

    It is in hard times such as these we need our libraries the most. Both for knowledge and for escapism. None of us want to live in a country where literacy and literature are no longer valued.

  112. Dr. Niall Munro, Oxford Brookes University says:

    Reducing library provision so drastically will have a severe impact upon young people in this country, whether they are learning to read and enjoy reading, or studying and aspiring to academic success.

  113. Anne Lyle says:

    As an author, former librarian and mother of an avid reader, I’d like to add my name to the deluge of voices demanding the preservation of our public libraries. Removal of these facilities threatens to widen the digital divide even further, by taking access to information (often, including free internet access) away from those who cannot afford to pay for them – to the long-term detriment of our society. Are we to turn the clock back to the 19th century, when books could only be borrowed by those able to pay a library subscription?

  114. Julie Cohen says:

    A library changed my life, and as an educator and author, I see libraries changing other young people’s lives as well. They are precious and should be defended.

    Julie Cohen, author and vice-chair of Reading Writers

  115. Esther Cropper says:

    Dear Mr Vaizey, I am a trainee primary school teacher and the mother of two young children. I spent a great deal of my childhood reading and one of my enduring childhood memories is of visits to the library and the excitement of choosing a new book to read (I vividly remember the smell and feel of the plastic covers children’s library books all had then). I’m overjoyed that my children also seem to have developed a love of reading. We are regular users of our local library and it is through the library that my children have been able to read such a wide range of children’s books. We can’t afford to buy new books all the time and nor do do I want to. As a teacher I encourage children to get excited about books and children need access to a good range of books that they can choose from. Unfortunately, I have seen many schools that no longer have, or weren’t even designed to have, a library space which is welcoming, well stocked and regularly updated. Public libraries are important than ever for children from all backgrounds to develop a love of books and reading.

  116. As a student seeking work in the last recession i found my local library a priceless facility in helping me in my studies and to find work. If we are seriously seeking to create a Big Society, then ensuring that everyone has free access to information has to be a universal public right across all communities.

  117. Libraries should be the last service to be cut when cuts have to be made,not the 1st as seems to be the case with most councils at the moment,Many of these councillors obviously have enough money to be able to afford to buy books and have fast speed internet in their homes not realising that everyone doesnt have the same resources,I for one would never have learnt how to use computers,if i hadnt used them in libraries,thanks to the libraries my music career has been transformed,like so many unemployed people,who have found jobs while surfing the computers in the library!
    For this reason i’ll be releasing my song”WE NEED LIBRARIES”on 29th January to coincide with National Libraries Day 4th FEB,with all profits going to help one or more campaigns to fight projected closures,it will be availlable on itunes,Amazon,etc

  118. Eugenie Summerfield says:

    Please add my name to the overwhelming list of those who are appealing against library closures. Please Mr. Vaizey, listen to the voice of the people.

  119. Marcus Moore says:

    To close a library is to close a book and declare that one will never read anything again: a folly as unforgivable and it is inconceivable.

  120. Catherine Escott-Allen says:

    Given my current & former roles you’d expect me to be pro-libraries and want to be a signatory to this letter, but here’s a more personal reason too: a few years ago I experienced something in my private life. I won’t go into detail, but I have never been more grateful that libraries existed and that I could quietly & discreetly browse the non-fiction shelves and serendipitously find books I never really realised existed. These books allowed me to understand what I was going through. In short, such reading matter allowed me (even at age 42) to grow up a little more, to become more emotionally intelligent and able to take greater responsibility. And yes, I browsed bookshop & second hand bookshop shelves as well – but I would never have afforded to purchase all I needed to read & learn from at that time, not least because my self-esteem was so low I would not have felt worthy of spending such money on myself.

    The joy I feel when I hear of our FRED adult learners making progress and how they have had the courage to come to us, often very stressed by the burden of having felt it necessary to cover up their lack of reading ability for years, is immense. I feel incredibly humble that the project was able to develop as fast as it did because of the networking potential the founder was able to tap into via Cinderford Library, for which I had responsibility at the time. FRED is now developing closer partnerships with all Forest of Dean libraries. In one sense FRED is an example of Big Society in action (communities helping themselves) – BUT- it could not have happened as well as it has, without what was already on offer via the public library service.

    I am proud of what public libraries can achieve for individuals, for communities, for cultural identity, and for all the other multitudinous impacts they have. It is SO not just about cheap literature for the middle classes!

    Please Mr Vaizey, listen to us and protect what it is so important to protect.

    Catherine Escott-Allen, former public librarian, now school librarian and voluntary member of the Management Team of FRED (Forest Read Easy Deal adult literacy project)

  121. June Quigley says:

    My Vaizey,
    I am 70 years old and terminally ill, thanks to the Isle of Wight Council cuts I can no longer get to a library which I have used for much of my life. I feel that, considering the vast amount of people who have contacted you on this matter you have certainly been less than diligent. Isn’t it time yopu either did your duty snd upheld thew Public Libraries & Museums Act or did the honourable thing and resigned it doing your statutory duty is too onerous a task for you.

    • Lesley Hurworth School Librarian and Chair Doncaster Children's Book Award says:

      Please add my name. Libraries are essential in helping raise the importance of reading as a life skill and encouraging reading for pleasure, as well as offering less privileged children access to free resources, expert advice and sanctuary.

  122. Mark Hughes, Academic Librarian & Public Library user says:

    Libraries are the key to an informed, educated & democratic society. For a relatively small amount of cost they provide a disproportionately huge benefit across so many areas of society.

    I urge you to please support them to your fullest ability

  123. Helen Riley says:

    Friends of Stroud Green and Harringay Library, London. We support all current library provision and call for immediate investment into library services across the UK.

  124. (Already signed, but please add this comment to the collection for Ed Vaizey)
    Dear Mr Vaizey
    Do you recognize these words?
    “While it is local authorities’ responsibility to provide libraries, the Act very clearly lays responsibility for ensuring a good service at the culture secretary’s door. If [the culture secretary] is not prepared to intervene when library provision is slashed in a local authority… it is clear that he is ignoring his responsibilities as secretary of state, which in the process renders any sense of libraries being a statutory requirement for local authorities meaningless.”
    They’re as true today as when you spoke them.

  125. Mr Vaizey, please support and protect our public libraries. They offer not only universal and free access to information and resources, but non-judgmental advice on learning and literacy, and a unique space for our communities to engage, to learn and to communicate.

    There is nothing else like them.

  126. Pingback: Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries Open Letter support grows | Alan Gibbons’ Blog

  127. joanna@bornat.me.uk says:

    So far in Haringey our public libraries have been saved, but our youth services have been slashed and parks are being left neglected. These are not reasonable or civilised choices to have to make nor did most of us vote for them. A minority in this government is setting about destroying the basics to what made life enjoyable, even bearable for some people. Shame on you Mr Vaizey.

    Friend of Stroud Green and Harringay Library

  128. Mitchell Dunkley says:

    My passion for reading as a child was fuelled by weekly visits to my local library – used to take delight in seeing what new or different books I could get issued to read before the next visit.
    I also used my local library a lot when I was a graduate looking for full time work (did not have access to the internet at home at the time) – free access to a PC meant I could job search and apply online for poistions of interest. I think these type of library/social services and facilites are of vital importance, especially in the current economic climate.

  129. Pingback: An open letter to Ed Vaizey – Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries « Rosehill Readers

  130. Mark Hurn BA, MA, FRAS, MCLIP says:

    Libraries present a tremendous opportunity for the government to improve the economy and quality of life of local communities. Public libraries are embeded in local communities and staffed by knowledgeable local people with IT skills. Central government could invest in these local resources to serve as community hubs for small businesses, unemployed, families and the the general community. Most LA libraries are all ready supporting their local communities in many ways -this could be built upon. Cuts are taking us nowhere.

  131. Helen Caruana Galizia says:

    It is not too late MR Vaizey, to think about those adults and children, particulary those from deprived families but from everyone who loves libraries.

    Helen Tomkins
    member of the now defunct Blackheath Village Library Users Group (I am not defunct)

  132. Chris Tooze says:

    As a resident of Gloucestershire I feel we need a modern library service that fits the needs of the 21st century. So yes this might look somewhat different to what we have today. Therefore I was concerned when I first heard about changes to the library service. I wrote to both my local councillors and my MP at the time these changes were first announced. I warned them that in my view the consultations that had taken place were insufficient. It gvies me no pleasure to see that after all this time and money has been wasted that this has been proved right. However there is a deeper issue. My MP, Neil Carmichael, felt it wasn’t really his place to get involved, or even express an opinion. My local councillor, John Waddington, made it clear that he ‘would not have dreamed of reducing the library service a few years ago’, and that he felt his hand was forced by the economic situation. My point? Neither claimed that what they were doing was aimed at providing the type of 21st century Library sevice we actually need. It was all about saving money. We must recognise that there are significant number of people who feel the old library service is outdated – even if we don’t agree with those views personally. What is needed is a proper conversation about what sort of library service would meet people’s needs, how we can save money and improve services. Every day librarians and other library staff spend their time considering exactly those questions. They, along with library users, are the people who should be listened to in this debate. The belief that properly trained library staff can simply be replaced by volunteers is a fallacy.

  133. Ann Evans says:

    Mr Vaizey, it is your duty to defend our libraries and library services. What possible good can come from closing libraries down and depriving entire communities of the opportunity to read and increase their knowledge and education through books?
    I’m an author, many of my books are children’s novels. This year I helped celebrate the opening of two wonderful school libraries – built through the efforts and dedication of parents, staff and parishioners. (No help from the government, that’s for sure). If you had been at these opening ceremonies and seen the joy and excitement of the entire school and local people you would hang your head in shame at the prospect of other libraries closing down.
    Please fight for this country’s libraries.
    Ann Evans, Author.

  134. The Mom says:

    Libraries are essential to healthy society. That simple.

    Knowledge is power, education is freedom and libraries offer both to everyone without discrimination. Libraries are needed now more than ever!

    The Books for Walls Project
    The Mom
    (We are a community of library lovers, including the 7 and 11 year old Sisters, working from the US to save libraries.)

  135. Libraries give all members of a community access to information in an organised and structured way. We live in an age where we have more information available to us than ever before, yet it is also less structured than ever before. Libraries and librarians can act as guides through this wealth of information.

    The importance of reading for pleasure should not be forgotten either. Librarians are experts in the world of literature and therefore are able to stock their libraries appropriately for their communities. The importance of libraries and librarians should never be underestimated. You can tell a lot about a country by how much they value their libraries.

  136. Penny Dolan says:

    So many good arguments and stories and views of everyone here, so please Mr Vaisey, do listen and act on what people are saying.

    As a visiting author, I’ve seen inside many libraries while they are in working mode, which is different to any ministerial visit mode when all staff are shipped in. Many of the people using the libraries are those that – for all sorts of reasons – need the support that books and the reading and library environments offer. Many – young parents, students, older persons – cannot afford the money or the time to travel all the way to central libraries. I’d also like to add that although volunteers are great and willing people, from my observations and experience, libraries need the energies of well-trained and enthusiastic librarians, especially in the children’s service. Libraries are about people as well as about books. Open your eyes and ears!

  137. Zaddyman says:

    Where I live the local library provides culture, inspiration and support in an area where there is little of any of those things. Closing libraries is the sign of a country in steep decline.

  138. Peter Griffiths says:

    As a former civil service librarian and knowledge manager, as well as (long ago) a public librarian, I fully understand the need for public finances to be in balance. But my business case in favour of the UK’s library services would not simply point out the adverse impact on learners of all ages caused by the wholesale closures now being inflicted by local authorities. It would set out the detrimental effect on small and medium businesses, who are losing access to the public library information services that support their enterprise and thus allow them to create and maintain employment. It would set out the loss to rural communities that often lack reliable broadband and for whom a fortnightly visit by the mobile library is a lifeline – something I only now properly understand having moved to rural Dorset on retirement. It would spell out the impact of library closures and bookfund cuts on the UK’s digital and creative industries, whose profitability comes in large part from libraries. It would point out that e-books and library volunteers (however well meaning and well trained) create as many problems as they may appear to solve. It would point out that library closures affect not just DCMS interests but those of several other government departments (among them BIS, DfE, Defra and MoJ), and that a silo approach addressing only the issues facing a single department does not deliver a sustainable solution. It would point out that once removed, the cost of restoring services is inevitably greater than that of maintaining them or any savings (if any) achieved. Of course current provision cannot be set in stone as an everlasting entitlement or benchmark, without reasoned challenge; needs change and provision must change to meet current needs. But the current wholesale closures are not reasoned, and nor is the imposition of swingeing cuts based on an incomplete understanding of all that libraries do and deliver.
    As a former President of CILIP I have encouraged. sometimes harangued, the profession to think and work creatively to find solutions to current difficulties – it is incumbent on government to do the same.
    I shall respond along these lines to the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee’s call for submissions to its enquiry on library closures, and i encourage others to submit relevant evidence by the closing date of 12 January 2012 or to contribute to CILIP’s evidence.

  139. Nicola Morgan says:

    Please add my name to this letter. I will do anything possible to save libraries. It sickens me to hear comments in the media and elsewhere along the lines of “but all information is online” (and novels??) and “but books don’t cost very much – why can’t people buy them?” (Apart from anything, children need to have their hunger for books fed, to be able to make mistakes, to be able to devour and discard as they become book lovers. And anyway, if you thnk everyone can afford to buy books, then you’ve not looked far.) So, please add my name. Thank you!

  140. S. Davies says:

    It’s been said already but I don’t think Mr. Vaizey will understand the true value of what is being lost until it’s gone.
    Sarah Davies
    Librarian and Library User.

  141. Libraries are vital to communities, especially during hard times. Economically they are a small outlay that provides a vast benefit, especially by giving children access to reading, by helping to spread community news and material, and by providing a community space. They are the perfect example of ‘big society’. By failing to support them you risk failing to enact your own oft-trumpeted economic and community-supporting objectives.

  142. John & Susan Hughes says:

    We share the strength of feeling expressed in the open letter and in the many comments represented here in its support. The national public library network provides the lifeblood to a culture that embodies literature and the wider arts, education and recreation and creates links with every other field of activity, including research and business development. The network links directly with library and information services and systems in all other sectors and geographically across Europe and the other continents. By failing to act now, Ed Vaizey shows a total lack of understanding of his important supervisory role.

  143. Libraries are hugely important to society. Please add my name.

    Laura Steel, Information Officer and regular library user.

  144. James holland says:

    Libraries are a proud part of our past and an important part of our future. Do not let them stop becoming beacons of knowledge and learning for generations to come.

  145. As soon as I could read, I was taken to Gloucester library every fortnight to change my books. Almost forty years on, I still use my local library at Upper Norwood at least once a week. It’s 111 years old, in the heart of the High Street in Crystal Palace (see Mary Portas’ review), well-used and deeply loved by the community. Oh, and Croydon Council want to sell it.

  146. I am very grateful for having grown up with an excellent local public library service (in Essex). I now work as a Library Assistant and see on a daily basis the difference that libraries make to peoples’ lives. Please, act now before irreversible damage is done to literacy and culture in this country.

  147. “I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries.”
    Carl Sagan, Cosmos

  148. mary hooper says:

    I grew up in a household without books and firmly believe I would not have ended up as a writer had it not been for my local library.

  149. Dave Harden says:

    I work as a volunteer IT Tutor and the libraries are an essential source of help for users new to computing. I do computer tutoring for Age UK’s Magic Mouse project and I know many elderly people who find the computers in libraries an invaluable resource. Please make sure that everyone has free access to these computers by keeping libraries open.
    Thank you, Dave Harden MBCS.

  150. Val Bonney says:

    It is imperative that you act NOW to help stop any more library closures.
    Val Bonney

  151. Julie Carthy - Founder of Forest Read Easy Deal says:

    I am the founder of Forest Read Easy Deal which has taught 16 adults in the Forest of Dean to read this year. Our organisation would not exist today if it were not for the help and support provided by our local libraries. Not only in helping it to recruit volunteers, and displaying our promotional material but also through innovative events such as the monthly community drop-in.
    We have plans to work in closer partnership with Gloucestershire Library Service in 2012 to enable more people to benefit from our service.

    There are many other similar voluntary organisations who need the support of their library to succeed.

  152. Pingback: Update and Open Letter to Ed Vaizey |

  153. Please add my name too. As a voracious child reader, I simply could not have accessed the range of books I read other than at my local library. This is STILL the case – the internet has not changed the accessibility of story books for children. Libraries are FREE to users; what an incredible resource! When literacy levels are dropping, it baffles me that the government does all it can to prevent them from rising again.

  154. Rebecca Brown, writer, reader, library user & mother of 2 library users

  155. Russ King says:

    My children (4 and 2) love going to the library and bringing an armful of books home. It is a big treat despite all the technology at their disposal. The next generation cannot get everything they need from the Internet and I believe this even though I earn my living via the Internet. Library use should be encouraged to get better value for the tax payers money rather than discouraged. Have governments not learned from the errors of closing the railways? A longer term strategy is needed.
    Russ King

  156. Rose Wilbraham says:

    Libraries are so important in every community, they truly are a national treasure, please
    don’t cut funding to them.

  157. Adam Haigh says:

    Public libraries are essential facets of society. Please ensure they receive the funding they need.

    Adam Haigh
    President, South Carolina Library Association

  158. Emma Crofts says:

    I am the College Librarian at Strode’s College in Egham in Surrey and I can’t express more strongly just how important our service and our local Library is to our students. Please! Please don’t take this away from them and other students like them.

  159. adele geras says:

    Please add my name to the list of signatories, I can add nothing to the excellent remarks made by my fellow writers and others. It would be a disaster if our wonderful library service were to be dismantled or interfered with in ways that made no sense.

  160. Kate Paice, editor, A&C Black says:

    Books enhance lives. Access to books is vital for children. Closing the libraries will damage communities, children, and our country’s future. There will be no way to replace them once they are gone. And if you think libraries are too expensive, you should count the cost of illiteracy.

  161. Adam Haigh says:

    The South Carolina Library Association (SCLA) firmly believes that all libraries, regardless of location, need the funding to support their communities.

  162. The cultural backbone of our communities is our library service. We must not watch it be torn out at the behest of a government who panders to the City and the banks while cutting away at the heart of our society. These people are cultural vandals. We didn’t vote for them, they don’t represent us and we should get rid of them and keep the libraries.

  163. Alan Fricker says:

    Libraries are essential to peoples lives. For the job seeker, the learner, the curious, the worried, the young and old. For work, relaxation, education, discovery and opportunity.
    Library services are being pulled away from the people who need them at a time when they need them more than ever. It is not just about closures but also about the reductions that are near closures – a library that is rarely open is as good as closed.
    Ed Vaizey must demonstrate a longer view and act now.

  164. I would like to add my voice to the many – libraries are a fundamental part of any educated society, providing vital and treasured access to books – and to the internet – for the communities they serve. As a novelist, as a teacher and as a mother, I would ask you please, please listen to the thousands of voices begging for funding to be sustained, so that public libraries can continue to fulfill their unique and inestimable function.

  165. Sally Ann Voak says:

    Sally Ann Voak, Author and Journalist, Old Coulsdon Library Supporters We have a wonderful library in the Village of Old Coulsdon, Surrey, which is run, at the moment, by the London Borough of Croydon. They are, as I write, looking at possible outside providers (some with dubious motives and disastrous track records in other Boroughs) to take over the running of our own, and the other libraries in the Borough. Our Library is a cherished, vital part of our community. and we need it to stay exactly as it and continue to provide a wonderful, free, service for our residents, of all ages. – from the pupils at the school next door to the library to the many disabled people who live here. If the government fail to support libraries, they will squander a nation’s heritage.
    They cannot continue to say that it is up to local councils to decide. This is a national issue, which needs immediate attention.from the Minister. Get on with it!

  166. Mike Stores says:

    Libraries are at the heart of a civilised society. Save Libraries

  167. Rosie H says:

    Research has clearly shown the link between libraries and literacy. Please do not deprive future gnerations of what we were fortunate enough to be able to take for granted.

  168. Laura Swaffield says:

    I am the chair of Friends of Lambeth Libraries, an umbrella group set up 12 years ago to fight ill-judged plans to close libraries. Our current situation is not yet resolved. It is already apparent, however, that we could expect no help or advice – let alone support – from the DCMS.
    The Secretary of State is a shadowy figure in this context, with no apparent interest in libraries at all. And the minister? Over the years, the minister has demonstrated some understanding of library issues. Yet his ONLY response to a national emergency that sees at least 600 libraries likely to be closed or badly downgraded, is the absurd Future Libraries Programme – elaborate, expensive merger plans that will create savings only after some years (if at all).
    His contempt for the people he is supposed to work for – library users – is total. Nor is he willing to engage with local authorities, whose function he sees purely as a place where he can shift 100% of the blame. He has no interest in real problems in real places in real time (ie now).
    As a result, library users are forced to go to law, at £30,000 a time, just to ensure a dialogue about their libraries. It is obvious that there are grounds for intervention under the 1964 Act. Two judicial review decisions have, indeed, underlined the importance of his role. He seems, in fact, to be either cowardly or lazy. There is no rational explanation for his inaction.

  169. Karla C. says:

    Be a friend of the library – keep libraries open everywhere. Don’t take it personally Mr. Vaizey , this is business. Listen to your constituents and support libraries that provide free services to all.

  170. Helen Briggs Former Policy Development Officer for Children and Young People for Gloucestershire County Council Libraries and Information Service says:

    If you care about the education of the next generation do not obstruct their chances to free access to books and computers. Libraries not only provide this valuable access but give children and young people the opportunity to meet librarians who can foster a love of reading and support their quest for information for assignments in a safe environment.

  171. Books are not a luxury, but a necessity in a civilized society. They educate, inspire, nuture, open up the mind. An educated society is richer, happier, more productive. A library offers opportunities for all. Closing or demoting them is counter-productive. The government should give the lead.

  172. Linda Hopkins says:

    The scale of library closures actioned and proposed is a disgrace to your government. It leaves many thousands of vulnerable readers without access to books and information; and children’s education and development will be damaged. In rural communities, travelling to other locations is not a viable option for many library users, who are too young, too frail or to poor to manage journeys and carry materials home.

  173. Jane Johnson says:

    As a professional publisher and novel writer, I owe a huge debt to libraries. Without those weekly raids on my local library (St Austell) I would never have been able to feed my voracious reading habit: my parents were not big readers, had no money to spare and we had few books in the house. As a result of reading way beyond my reading age and across all adult subjects, I ended up as the first in our family ever to go on to university. Forty years later on, there are still a lot of families like mine, who depend on lending libraries for their reading matter. They should not be disadvantage by short-sighted spending cuts, which will have a hugely adverse knock-on effect for the educational and cultural life of our country in the future.

  174. In Suffolk we have had too fight hard to try and save our libraries and whilst the County Council have backed down – for now – from the massive closures they first proposed the funding is still being cut by 30%. Suffolk is a rural county and libraries are a lifeline especially for the very young and very old in our communities. The inaction by the Government has been a huge disappointment.

    Faced with the nearest thing Suffolk has seen to a revolt the County Council backed down but it is no thanks to the Government that our libraries are still open and communities are having to get more and more involved in order to keep them running. We do not mind taking some local responsibility, indeed this is a good thing, but we do not have sufficient funding or capacity at Parish Council level to run library services on our own.

  175. Nick Doody says:

    Without the library, my childhood and teenage years would have been immeasurably diminished in education, entertainment and imagination. Devouring six books a week would have been impossible had I had to buy them. The list of authors I would never have read is too long to contemplate without a sense of horror; it’s like imagining my schoolfriends were deleted from history. To condemn a generation of children to a poorer intellectual life than the one I had is Philistine, tragic and unnecessary.

    Nick Doody, comedian and writer

  176. Pamela Weaver says:

    In many areas public libraries are the last bit of social glue holding communities together. Closing libraries seemingly at random will create far-reaching problems costing well in excess of the relatively small sum of money saved

  177. The shocking silence from Ed Vaizey over library closures and threatened closures around the UK is offensive and outrageous and we call on him to grow a pair as continued silence and inaction will only serve to make people think that he supports closures and severe cuts to libraries.

    from ‘Save Debenham Library Campaign, Suffolk’ and the
    ‘Save Suffolk Libraries Campaign Network’

  178. Sue Pullen says:

    I have observed one of the Future Libraries programmes in action and would like to observe that it would have had much more impact if:
    – each participating authority hadn’t already lost the required staffing capacity (seniority and numbers) to fully engage with the programme
    – it hadn’t been hijacked by such high level corporate involvement and non specialist library consultants that the reports produced actually say nothing of meaning to/about individual authorities
    – the supporting MLA personnel were not already half way out of the door and therefore not fully engaged in the programme either

  179. We already have a serious literacy problem in the UK, but not every family can afford to buy books. Libraries were

  180. mainlymazza says:

    Academic studies of public libraries since the 1960’s have time and time again shown that there is a direct link between available, accessible libraries and the development of literacy accross the population in general. Libraries are a place that are non-class, non-religion, non-racial and gender nuetral where whoever and what ever you are does not matter, you still get access to learn what you want to for your own advancement and pleasure. Public libraries offer the largest self-educational system in Britain. Each report strongly states that politicians do not include libraries in statutory legislation, and it simply appears to me that this particular so-called co-alition government is demonstating their fear of the power of libraries and are content to let them close because the Conservative party want an uneducated and illiterate populace which cannot oppose government decisions because they do not understand them. I believe that Britain is being thrust back into pre-Victorian times.

  181. Graham Lee says:

    AD LIB (The Association of the Friends of Dorset Libraries) have for the past year been fighting the Dorset County Council who originally planned to withdraw the funding to 20 rural libraries. They now proposed to cease funding 9 libraries most of which are in very rural areas of the County. People in these area rely on the library as the hub of the community , children often have no facilities other than the library. Every effort must be made to stop the widespread destruction of the public library service.

  182. I can only repeat what everyone else had already said about the vital role libraries play in our society. Closing libraries and losing the expertise of librarians & archivists will do untold harm for years to come. It’s so short-sighted. As Derek Bok said: ‘If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.’ Let’s not.

  183. Alison Felstead - Academic Librarian says:

    Our public libraries are more important than ever in these troubled and troubling times. We’ve already lost our police station in Moreton-in-Marsh, and to lose the public library too would be disastrous.

  184. I have always been a keen user of public libraries, they have & continue to provide me with information, resources, the space etc. As a child libraries gave me the opportunity to indulge my love of reading which in turn led me to aspire to learn more, become educated, go to university, find a profession. Libraries helped me level the playing field providing me with the same opportunities as others. It will be a poorer society without libraries

  185. It’s so moving to read all these messages. Readers, and those who care about equality of access to information of all kinds are asking for your help. Please don’t let us down.

  186. bibliojenni says:

    Jennifer Howard, librarian. Please add my name to the already incredibly long list of those who understand the value of libraries and their significance to a democratic society.

  187. If you don’t know the trees, you may be lost in the forest, but if you don’t know the stories, you may be lost in life.
    Siberian elder

  188. Kaye Bagshaw, Librarian and booklover says:

    Libraries are important places in our communities. Places and spaces where people find information and knowledge, where children discover new worlds – all for free. Please support libraries.

  189. Dear Ed Vaizey, you really don’t want go down in history as the man who let the libaries die do you? Throw the lifeline now!!

  190. The Friends of Benson Library
    We are staggered that there has been no management of the way County Councils have introduced cuts in local government spending. While it is clear that certain costs cannot be sustained, if central government demands reductions then those, i.e. YOU, who are responsible should take an active interest in the impact of these draconian measures. On 12 December 2011 Oxfordshire waived through a proposal that will have the combined effect of forcing rural libraries to recruit vast numbers volunteers while scaling down the payroll of librarians through redundancy. This is not about the next 3 or 4 years. The impact will be felt far into the future. LIbraries in Oxfordshire may fail and close as a direct consequence while the decision makers slip quietly away.

  191. Rosie Berridge says:

    Reader,library user, mother of 3 new readers and library users

  192. Ann Cleeves, writer says:

    Libraries are at the cultural heart of our country. Without words and stories we’re all poorer.

  193. As part of mu role as a manager of a local nature reserve I am involved in education visits by local children and fully appreciate the value of the local village library. I hope I can interest the children in all things “natural” and hope they will go away to investigate further and where better than the library round the corner.

  194. Andrew Nethercoat says:

    I am a teacher, dad and writer. We need libraries.

  195. Dear Mr Vaizey
    There is an unkind nickname waiting for you. It may not be too late to avert it ….

  196. Libraries are the enemy of ignorance and boredom. The more people read, the less inclined they are to go to war.

  197. Gill Jackson says:

    Mr Vaizey
    With the the unravelling of the library system, not only will you be destroying the potential of the generations to come, you will also destroy an industry which employs thousands and generates huge export income for this cash-strapped economy. You should not forget that publishing is a manufacturing industry – one of the few left – and must be supported if the culture of this country is to be maintained at a level of a civilized society rather than dumbed down to the level of the Sun. Publishers and their writers depend on libraries for their existence. If you destroy one, you destroy the other.

    Gill Jackson, publisher

  198. Jon Davis says:

    Libraries are precious and must be supported and funded, not closed.

  199. Nicole Cornell says:

    Libraries play a crucial role in children’s development: from showing parents how to share stories with their children to supporting their literacy during the summer months in the Summer Reading Challenge. Statistics show this is particularly vital in areas of deprivation: will you really not do anything to stop the erosion of a service which supports the government’s work at such a small cost to the taxpayer?
    Nicole Cornell, Librarian

  200. Tracy Chevalier says:

    Please add my name to the list of signatories. My childhood was punctuated by weekly visits to the public library. Without it and the interest of the children’s librarian (Mrs Carney, Takoma Public Library, Washington, DC – thank you!), I doubt I would have become a writer. Libraries lift books from commercial products to necessities that open our minds and hearts.
    Tracy Chevalier, Author

  201. Suzanne Brown says:

    I don’t think I ‘ll add to the many impassioned, enlightened people here, I’ll just say what a Tory might listen to – I’ve worked in libraries in wealthy as well as poor areas – rich, Tory voting people use libraries too you know – or at least they send their au pairs and chauffeurs to them! You might just lose a few votes if you keep up this ideological hands off approach. Do the right not the (extreme) Right thing for once in your life Ed.

  202. Guy Pringle says:

    To my mind, the quality of a nation’s library service is a direct reflection of its society. Letting cuts go through – as you appear to be minded – is a retrograde step. ‘Thatcher the Milk-Snatcher’ will go with her to the grave – care to imagine what your equivalent will be?
    Guy Pringle, Publisher newbooks magazine

  203. Charlotte Mendelson, publisher and author says:

    Without libraries, Britain will be a poorer and greyer place. Please, do something.

  204. Anthony Browne, former Children's Laureate says:

    A healthy library service is one of the key markers of a civilised society. Without it we will lose so much. Please add my name to this list.

  205. Julie says:

    As a very young child, one of my earlliest memories is of the Saturday morning visit to the library in Hunstanton. To be able to choose and borrow books, whatever their cost, free of charge, and immerse myself in another time or place was essential to this lonely child. I gained lots of friends in Arrietty (The Borrowers), George (The Famouse Five), among many others. I learned how to be braver and not so shy. Now, as a librarian in a high school, I work hard to inspire youngsters to read as I know how important these opportunities can be. Libraries are essential.

  206. Carol Moug says:

    Once a library is removed it is well-nigh impossible to restore. Do you want to be the Beeching of the 21st Century?

  207. Vivien Griffiths OBE (for services to Libraries and Learning) says:

    Like so many of the people who have supported this letter, libraries gave me my real education, the one that gave me a different vision of the world and a horizon beyond my everyday life. They also gave me the most rewarding and satisfying career, first as a children’s librarian (Have you any idea of the amazing work these people do, Mr Vaizey?) and then as Director of Libraries in the biggest local authority in the country. What is happening to our libraries is a national disgrace and we will reap a very bitter harvest in the future. Everyone is being affected, but young people will suffer most and the most deprived children may never have the joy of reading those special books which have a positive and enlightening influence for the rest of your life. Please speak out, before it’s too late, not just about closures, but about the gradual chipping away of expertise and the knowledge and commitment which we are losing as our wonderful libraries are stripped of staff and opening hours reduced to a token level.

  208. PCC Secretary Joy Paterson says:

    The Parochial Church Council of St Katharine’s Church, Matson will sign this letter. In a discussion they voted nem con to sign it and want to see their local Matson library flourish for the good of the whole community

  209. Revd Canon Dr Jeni Parsons - Rector of Matson says:

    I want to sign too as an individual – this matters to me and to this very vulnerable community of Matson

  210. We should be immensely proud of our free public libraries. They are essential to any kind of equality of opportunity, and are far too valuable to be lost. It is unbelievable that in a liberal democracy we are having to fight to keep them.
    Linda Newbery, author

  211. Peter Todd says:

    We already have a serious literacy problem in the UK, but not every family can afford to buy books. Please act now.

  212. Susie Maguire says:

    It astonishes me that someone charged with the duty of being a Minister FOR Culture could stand by and let this happen.. this is more correctly the action of a Minister Of Cultural Indifference. PLEASE TAKE ACTION TO STOP THESE CLOSURES AND TO STAND UP FOR & SUPPORT OUR CULTURE.

  213. Philanthropic Victorians spent millions on building and filling libraries so that everyone had books within their reach. This is, even now, a society which is generally better off than in the 19th century, so how can we contemplate tearing down their legacy?

    • Paul Carter says:

      Our council, OCC, has been very reluctant to share information for us to be able to participate in the consultation.
      What we have been able to obtain has suggested that (a) it does not know its actual costs well at all; (c) its library service is proportionately very expensive compared to similar organisations. Therefore the decision to achieve savings simply by reducing services to the public, is a lazy way to do it.
      The “big society” is being quoted at us as a challenge to fill the spaces with volunteers; there is no substance to this, and it is a cynical device to suppress opposition.

    • cllr Roger sanders says:

      Totally supportive, simple, just leave Libraries alone

  214. As a writer, blogger and counsellor I fully and whole-heartedly support the ethos of this campaign.

  215. The RSL strongly opposes cuts to and closure of public libraries. A number of our Council Members have expressed their feelings on the subject including our President, Colin Thubron:

    ‘In today’s commercial highstreet, the public library is an oasis of knowledge and understanding. Every time a library closes down, a spark of civilisation disappears from our lives.’

    Please take action in support of public libraries!

  216. vivienne schuster says:

    I spent so much time in my local library as a kid. It was a very big part of my education. How can we deny this opportunity to our children. In all the spending cutbacks at this difficult time, this is one hugely important facility that MUST remain available. We cannot have this on our conscience.

  217. Ian says:

    Ian Clark, library campaigner.

  218. Jo Wyton says:

    I can’t add much to the above comments, other than to say that my childhood was spent in libraries and my adult years have been driven by what I read and absorbed there. Libraries form too vital a part of our society and the growth of our children that to contemplate shutting them down or reducing their ability to reach people (including mobile libraries) is a disgrace. Please add my name to the list.

  219. Lucy Coats says:

    Dear Mr Vaizey,

    When I was growing up we couldn’t afford to buy books, and I was a voracious reader. So the local library was my lifeline. I am now a children’s author, and will will be forever grateful to Basingstoke Library and its staff for giving me the building blocks of my trade – books which stimulated a lifelong passion for language and the works of so many creative minds. For the many children and adults who can’t afford books today, the free library is still a lifeline. Librarians provide a hugely beneficial service to their communities in so many ways, and most importantly, they are instrumental in boosting literacy. Without libraries and librarians, the appalling literacy figures in the UK would be much worse. Closing libraries is, quite simply an unforgiveable crime against our young people and their futures. Don’t do it. Please.

    Lucy Coats, children’s author

  220. Cllr David Ellesmere - Leader of Ipswich Borough Council says:

    Please add Ipswich Labour Party to the list.

    We have fought a strong campaign to stop Suffolk County Council closing three of our libraries here in Ipswich. They’ve backed down for now but the funding is only guaranteed up to the next County Council elections….

  221. Jane Borodale, Author says:

    A good and universally accessible library service is surely the mark of a civilized and forward-thinking society – a requirement for a healthy society not a luxury, and we will all pay the true cost of forgetting that in the long run. The next generation will ask deep questions of us if we let the library service go and it will be frankly shameful if it does. Fight for it Mr Vaizey, please, tooth and claw.

  222. Libraries are a vital source. They are place that can nurture a love of reading that goes with you throughout your life. They provide what feels like an unlimited source of escapism between those pages. Please stop taking them away. All you politicians who seem to think everything should be science/engineering/maths based need to remember one simple thing. You can’t do any of those things if you can’t read.

  223. IBBY UK is the British section of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) – a worldwide non-profit organisation dedicated to bringing children and books together. It’s ironic that as a result of local authorities’ implementation of government policy we in the UK now face the very literary impoverishment that IBBY strives to overcome worldwide.

  224. Tricia Adams says:

    As a regular library user I would like to add my support to this call. My particular interest is in school pupils who use libraries as havens for homework ,reading and socializing – where will they get this space and the attendant help if local libraries close, reduce open hours and reduce trained staff availability. With all the government’s interest in raising reading scores and engagement in this country, not cutting libraries seems a no-brainer! Tricia Adams, Director – School Library Association

  225. Pauline Rainton says:

    Living in a democratic society should be about more than simply voting every few years. It should also be about having a government prepared to engage in discussion wth the electorate and be able to explain why a particular policy is the best choice. As the minister responsible for libraries, Mr Vaisey, when will you tell us why it is right to close our libaries, when it is very evident that library users want them to stay open.

  226. Ann Turnbull says:

    I agree with everything that has already been said. Libraries are vital to a civilised society. I can’t believe that we are having to fight to retain them.

  227. Hazel Edmunds, information broker, retired civil servant (employment adviser), library user says:

    My principal concern with the closure of public libraries, and the subsequent loss of trained library staff, is the overwhelming effect that this will have on the disadvantaged in society:
    – those whose income level means that books and newspapers must now be considered a luxury;
    – those who need to obtain health, lifestyle or career advice, preferably in the case of the first two, without friends or neighbours knowing;
    – those who do not have Internet access in their homes (mainly single men living in multi-occupancy houses) needing to maintain contact with friends, find bus or train times, look for jobs and so on; and
    – children who are voracious or advanced readers need more choice than can possibly be available to them in their own home or a small school library.
    I could go on but the list above may remind you of some of the reasons why, in opposition, you thought it essential to champion public libraries.

  228. Cllr Kate Haigh says:

    I hope that Gloucestershire County Council will finally see sense and keep our much needed and loved libraries open

  229. John Bond says:

    John Bond – Save Surrey Libraries
    Closing libraries or removing library staff will do serious harm to our young, isolate many of the more elderly and damage our communities. The costs are small, but the full benefits can’t be measured.

  230. Kimberly Saunders, Academic Librarian says:

    Libraries form the backbone of community, culture and education on both a local and national level. As a regular library user and librarian myself, ignorance on this scale defies comprehension.

  231. Sarah Mussi says:

    On behalf of the members of CWISL (CHILDREN’S WRITERS AND ILLUSTRATORS IN SOUTH LONDON) we entirely support this letter.

    Sarah Mussi
    CHAIR

  232. callmecathy says:

    Please sign us up!
    Cathy Foster, Cristina Sacco Ritchie & Clare Thompson – the Noisy Librarians group

  233. Barbara Gray + Duffield Reading Group (akaThe Duffers) says:

    I am a schoool librarian, and also organise a reading group with members including teaching staff, support staff and students. All wish me to add our names to the letter. We are all shocked at the possibility that only those who can afford to buy books or travel to large central libraries are going to have access to all the printed resources they might need, or to free computer time. Yes, books seem cheap to many but not to those on benefits, or a low wage and have to buy school uniform, new shoes, food. It seems that we’re returning to a dark age when education and self-betterment are only available to the few who can afford it. We need a better-educated society don’t take away access to education.

  234. Melanie Tighe says:

    Friends of Waterloo Library support this petition

  235. Michele says:

    As a lifelong library users – whether employed, a student, or unemployed, I continue to be appalled that ConDem government thinks it’s a good idea to close libraries or cut funding for library services up and down the country. The list of best-selling authors (in particular) who relied heavily on their local libraries (and in many cases still do) for research is long, beginning with Sir Terry Prattchet. Clearly the present government values neither learning nor culture richness (and probably resents voters being able to think for themselves too!)

    Michele Fry (lifelong library user first of Stroud Public Library, Gloucestershire, now Oxford Central and Headington, Oxfordshire)

  236. Libraries have been the making of many great people, and the saving of many others. They are the imbodiment of the Big Society truly at work for all, and wonderfully good value for all they achieve. Save them and help them prosper. Please.
    Pippa Goodhart

  237. Natalie Barker says:

    Please add my name. I am a library user and hate the idea of them being phased out.

  238. Inge Thornton says:

    Library closures are happening now and must be stopped and reversed as soon as possible. The cuts and closures disproportionately affect the poorest communities.

  239. I went to a school where the ‘library’ was locked up for most of the week.Through the opaque glass, I could see shelves of dusty-looking books. Only if you were a boarder could you borrow a book (of the ‘lives of saints’ variety) for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon. When I asked the vice-principal if she would sign my application to join the city library, she asked me why would I be wanting to read more books. ‘Do you not have enough with your text books already?’ Is this where we are now being led? Back to a 1950s convent in South Africa where books were a dangerous commodity that might lead a young person to think… to go astray?
    Rise up, Mr Dickens, from your grave, to join the ‘Save Our Libraries’ campaign. You would surely denounce the Bounderbys and Gradgrinds who can see no further than the ends of their noses as they hack away at precious libraries with their highly skilled librarians, resources and organisation. Where are the politicians who understand that young minds especially need to be fed just as much as stomachs? Without creative, informed minds how will they deal with the mess they are about to inherit? Mr Vaizey, imagine yourself under Dickens’s gaze. It is time to act.

  240. Desmond Clarke says:

    I fully support this letter

  241. Save St. James Library – campaign led by St. James Residents’ Association (Northampton) http://www.sjra.info
    Dear Mr Vaizey, it was not our community or our Library users who caused this financial crisis, so why are they being punished and why are you not protecting their Library? Libraries underpin local communities and support local businesses like the Post Office etc. Close the library and you rip the heart out of communities like St. James I urge you to have the courage of the convictions you displayed in 2009 and protect our libraries. It is the poorest and most vulnerable in our society who will be hit hardest by these illegal closures. There is no mandate from the British public for any of this madness.
    Graham Croucher, Secretary SJRA.

  242. Keep Middlesbrough Grove Hill Library Open says:

    Closing libraries costs far more than it saves

  243. Pingback: Library closures: writers attack Ed Vaizey in open letter | Book Reviews and Ideas

  244. The process in Gloucestershire was deeply flawed and should never have threatened libraries in less well-off areas like Hesters Way in Cheltenham, where they are often needed most. I have raised this issue repeatedly with the county council administration but legal action and campaigning seem to have more impact so keep up the good work.

  245. As a School Librarian who started her career in Public Libraries I can’t express how important Libraries are to me. Caroline Fielding

  246. Moyra Lumsden says:

    I fully support this petition. Young people can find whole new worlds within the walls of libraries that they can’t get anywhere else and that includes the Internet.

  247. Donna Baird says:

    Dear Mr Vaizey,

    I have just finished a project with 20 boys to get them reading some of whom has not picked up a book in the last 2 years. ALL of them read at least 2 books and one boy read 9. I organised a trip to our national stadium , professional football coaching and a chance to meet the author of their books as well as prizes and personalised books. This was a joint project with another school and was a resounding success. And this is only one of the many projects I undertake.

    Please tell me who else will do this when you close our libraries?

    Donna Baird
    Librarian

  248. Alison Skoyles says:

    Please don’t close any more public libraries.

  249. Coming from a working class non book household it was the discovery of my small local library as a child that opened up a whole new world for me. Without that library, and others in Portsmouth I frequented in my passion for reading and discovering new authors, wonderful stories and facts, I doubt that I would have gone on to have a successful career, my own business, and become an author myself. Libraries change lives. They open up new horizons for many people, young and old and many who come from disadvantaged backgounds. Through giving frequent talks to library users across the UK I know how much libraries mean to the community.

  250. Hugh Paton says:

    Lifelong library user, library worker (soon to be ex-) – libraries are one of the few remaining public institutions that actually improve the quality of life and help give some kind of social cohesion in an increasingly fragmented and individuated society. They can (if resourced) adapt to social and technological change and continue to provide a cultural, recreational, social and educational focus for all. Once gone, they will not return, and we will all be much the poorer for it.

  251. Aimee Augier says:

    As a teacher, resident and mum to be, fear this will be a disaster for the community if this library closes. I urge you to please do whatever you can to ensure the local community do not miss out on a experience that I enjoyed twice a week as a child.

  252. hootlibrary says:

    This month we learned that Trafford Council wants to remove paid staff from our well-loved and well-used library in Old Trafford, and replace them with unpaid volunteers. The upset and anger felt locally is a testament to the value of real, professional libraries in our communities. Please look again, Mr Vaizey, and understand how your silence and indifference is allowing part of the vital fabric of the nation to be unwoven.

    Please add our group to this letter:
    Hands Off Old Trafford Library

  253. Paul Sandles, Legal Librarian and public library user says:

    Mr Vaizey,

    Libraries can be improved with good results and at minimal cost if you simply have the guts to try; I would point to Hillingdon as a perfect example of how local creativity and innovation can make a real difference, not just to the libraries themselves, but more importantly to the communities that use them. Instead of tacitly approving of local authorities closing libraries (or even more craftily keeping them open but at such inconvenient times that no-one uses them in future), why are you not advocating that we all go and use them so that the business case for keeping them well funded is retained through sufficient use? Where is the national level advocacy?

    What has happened is exactly the same as in the days of British Rail; the managers would ask themselves how they could close a line they didn’t wish to retain without having to get all nasty about it and face serious local opposition. Their tactic? Reduce investment in maintenance or infrastructure and thereby choke off demand, thus engineering the very business case for closure that they sought from the outset. To make explicit the comparison, if you seriously believe that the library service has not been “hollowed out” for many years and contributing to the decline in usage we all know has happened, then you are capable of willful self delusion. This can be turned around with some foresight and innovation.

    Finally, just in case you’ve not looked it up, here is what “to superintend” means in the OED (accessed using a public library online service in case you wanted to know). Perhaps Mr. Hunt would be interested in this?

    “To have or exercise the charge or direction of (operations or affairs); to look after, oversee, supervise the working or management of (an institution, etc.).”

    How have you been “looking after” or “overseeing” libraries thus far Mr Vaizey?

    I’ll forgive you the last eighteen months of inaction if you start standing up and saying something positive that is open and honest about the realities of our financial circumstances (we can take it you know), but looks instead to find creative solutions that will actually work in the long run rather than just patch up the problem and delay the inevitable closure by a year or so at most.

    At present, your inaction is simply reinforcing a culture of despair and mistrust in the political process; you’ll reap what you sow.

  254. Pat Bidston, Former Librarian, Gloucestershire County Council. says:

    Too many people think that the Internet has all but replaced the need for libraries, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. A properly resourced library service is vital for the vulnerable in our communities and to instil a love of reading in our children. The Tories once had a proud record for philanthropy, but sadly now seem to subscribe to the “I’m alright Jack ” mentality.

  255. The Eddies Staff Reading Group says:

    Libraries and librarians play a significant role in the well being of their local community rich or poor. They must survive

  256. Librarians have a reputation of having a huge impact on peoples’ lives. Local and school communities need their libraries.

  257. Gillian Ward says:

    Libraries and librarians are vital for all members of society, young and old. I’m a school librarian (Fortismere School) and know that our library and the public libraries around us are valued highly by students and their families. To leave anyone without access to books and information is unthinkable.

  258. michael johns g.b.f.t.e. says:

    Very very concerned at the lack of action.(Feature film editor)

  259. UNISON says:

    A good public library service is at the heart of the community and UNISON wants to make sure it stays that way. We oppose libraries being viewed as a soft target for cuts as local authorities struggle with drastic reductions in funding from the Coalition government. Now more than ever individuals and communities need access to well resourced and professionally staffed library services.

    Our long-running Love Your Libraries campaign calls for a commitment to:

    – Adequate resources and funding for public library services, staff and premises
    – Empowerment of staff and communities to shape services together
    – Partnership working between libraries & councils across the UK to share information and good practice
    – Responsiveness to library users from all backgrounds
    – Provision of staff training and professional development.

  260. Sarah Jenkins, Bookseller and library user, Suffolk says:

    With the economic climate as it is, libraries and librairians are more important than ever if we are going to improve literacy levels in this country.

  261. Alison Johnston says:

    We need well funded well stocked libraries especially in times of economic downturn. We need them to be staffed by paid, trained, passionate librarians who are passionate about all forms of knowledge. Any messing about with the public library system is tantamount to vandalism and philistinism. Politicians in their well paid ivory towers don’t seem to get this.

  262. Mark Pain says:

    Libraries are a central point of the community at large for generations, despite faith or or social group and should be preserved at all costs. Learning and reading should not be the preserve of those more fortunate either by class or wealth – if anything their role should be expanded out into the community where transport may be an issue for individuals.

  263. Roland P. Clark (Teacher Consultant) says:

    How are the building blocks of Big Society to be laid if centres of community spirit and communication are removed? Reading and literacy are increasingly group activity yet your failure to protect their best-established and most vibrant homes is tantamount to fracturing localities and society itself.

  264. Mrs Moira Dawson says:

    Moira Dawson. I work for Gateshead Central Library. The work that is done by the library and staff for their users and the community should be recognised not penalised.
    The people in the community depend on a library system that not only supplies books but keeps them informed of everyday issues. Helps with problems gives them any information they require.
    Help should be given to keep libraries open not looking for an easy way to make money.

  265. Hope Caton says:

    I love my local library. The people are always friendly and it’s a gathering place for the very young and the very old. Libraries are especially important during times of financial need. I could never afford to purchase all the wonderful books I read – both for pleasure and for research.
    Sorry Ed, but it’s not all available online, and libraries are more than computer terminals – they’re communities and our government should be standing up for them, not closing them down.
    Hope Caton
    Lecturer, Kingston University

  266. Christiane Nicholson says:

    In March 2004, during a debate on the Public Library Service, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport said
    “I looked back at the passage of the Public Libraries Act 1850, the first Act to establish public libraries in this country. It was promoted by a Liberal MP, William Ewart, and attacked by the Conservative Party on the grounds that, as one Conservative MP said, people have too much knowledge already: it was much easier to manage them twenty years ago; the more education people get the more difficult they are to manage”.
    HL Deb 17 March 2004 vol 659 cc305-26

    http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/lords/2004/mar/17/library-service

    Can it be true that we have made so little progress in all that time?

  267. Anne Redmon FRSL says:

    I utterly deplore any attempt to close libraries anywhere. The good they do cannot be weighed and measured but, as a former Writer in Residence at a large London prison, I have stacks of anecdotal evidence. People’s lives are turned round by reading. Even this is a utilitarian view. There is no greater companion for the lonely than a good book. There is no greater educator.

  268. Anne Brewster says:

    Every community deserves a quality library service. It is invaluable for information, self education and pleasure.

  269. Kitty says:

    I echo all the great comments above and would just like to add that as an immigrant child growing up on and NCB estate in South Yorkshire in the 1960s, my local library was a haven and an inspiration. It widened my horizons, answered all my questions and allowed me to sit quietly reading for hours at a time. Now kids get to use computers too. Don’t steal this inheritance.

  270. Sheila Gooddie says:

    Libraries are needed more than ever as unemployed numbers grow especially among the young. I am a regular user of my Knutsford library and a published author.

  271. Karen Smith says:

    Libraries are essentials, not luxuries!
    They need investment, not cuts!
    In supporting literacy, education and social inclusion they underpin our society and reflect our quality of life.
    They are worthwhile – the benefits they bring justify the cost.
    There are ways to save money without reducing the vital services they provide.

  272. Michael Morpurgo says:

    To close libraries is to promote illiteracy and ignorance, to deprive our children of knowledge and understanding, to stifle intellectual curiosity and emotional growth.

  273. Kathy Stockwin says:

    I also echo the sentiments expressed. Libraries are a mark of a civilised society and a RIGHT of all citizens of the UK, not a luxury. – Kathy Stockwin, Chair, Friends of Ivybridge Library

  274. “Liberty is a freedom to go to a library”, said a Russian poet Joseph Brodsky, who been brought up in the USSR, like me, knew what effect a restriction of reading does have on one personality. Please think bigger, think of the future generation, do not deny them the knowledge of world culture and do not narrow their horizon.

  275. Libraries are our nation’s future! – Julian Stockwin, author and library user

  276. Julie Baker says:

    No civilised society can contemplate depriving communities of their libraries, surely?
    Julie Baker (retired teacher)

  277. Christopher Hall, Librarian says:

    As a public librarian for the whole of my working life (28 years) I utterly deplore any attempt to close libraries and deprive communities of this valuable service and lifeline. Libraries are more important than ever and should not be used as a political football. I agree totally with all the comments posted above

    When are YOU going to start saving libraries, Mr Vaisey?

  278. Pam Riley says:

    Sixth form college library assistant. Public libraries are vital to the cultural and social health of society. It is the government’s responsibilty to protect this service for all.

  279. Elizabeth Catherine Negus says:

    In science, read, by preference, the newest works; in literature, the oldest. Edward Bulwer-Lytton 1803-73
    This century has been characterised by extreme low levels of literacy. The Evening Standard, Thursday 2 June 2011, reads “Illiteracy in London– My Pupils Can’t Read Basic Words”; whilst the Daily Telegraph, with a more disturbing headline raised the same perennial question, “What’s wrong with our Education System”? The situation surrounding literacy does appear unpropitious and closing libraries would be catastrophic!

    Elizabeth Catherine Negus (English Language/Literature Lecturer)

  280. Martin says:

    According to the Guardian (15th December http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/dec/15/library-closures-writers-ed-vaizey-letter?newsfeed=true) the DCMS reply is going to be along the lines of “Use of statutory powers, including intervention, will be exercised on a case by case basis only when all other avenues of dialogue have been exhausted.” From this it seems that unless we have taken the case to the European Court of Human Rights we cannot expect any intervention from DCMS as we will not have exhausted “all other avenues of discussion”. It seems that legal arguments must now included under the definition of discussions, given that Gloucestershire residents were not able to discuss things with those responsible for making decisions about the fate of our libraries before the old or the new plans were “announced” by the county’s ruling junta.

  281. Edward Mirzoeff CVO, CBE says:

    Do we wish to become a Land Without Culture and Literacy, as we were once (thank heavens no longer) considered a Land Without Music? Libraries are the best investment we can make in our future, whatever blinkered Councillors and short-termed politicians might think. I know – I owe everything in my childhood to a wonderful small branch library – of just the kind the philistines are trying to close.

  282. Matthew White says:

    Are you mad? Are you really contemplating closing down more local libraries? A library is one of the few things from which the entire community can benefit (also public parks). They are invaluable, and much treasured in our local area (Crouch End, North London). Please don’t do anything to jeopardise this much needed local facility.

  283. Caryn Jenner, children's book writer and editor says:

    Keep libraries open!

  284. Cherry and David Land says:

    Cherry and David Land, ReadWell and parents to 4 & 7 year olds in Glos who deserve to grow up being able to use and enjoy a local public library

  285. Sue Hall says:

    Public libraries are the cornerstone of a civilised society. They offer equality of opportunity in a society that is becoming more and more unequal. The gap between rich and poor is growing. Libraries can help to close that gap. Is that why your government is shutting them down?
    “Ed Vaizey didn’t have the courage to stand up for libraries. Instead, he stood by and allowed our public libraries close”. That is what future generations of children will say about you, if you don’t act now to stop this from happening.

  286. Alison Lingham says:

    I have worked with children and youing people for the past 20 years, and witnessed a steady decline in the ability of young people to engage with, and process and understand, quantities of text. The Leader of the Council in Gloucestershire is adamant that libraries no longer have relevance to young people, because the internet provides their every need. This is missing the point. Without the abilty to read confidently, and voraciously, the mass of information on line becomes confusing and often misleading. Having been forced out of the public library sector, I now find that the reading malaise is spreading even within the world of private secondary education.
    How can this country possibly pull itself out of the current economic mess without a skilled, articulate and literate workforce? And teachers need to work alongside professional Librarians in their schools and communities who can provide and promote the best possible books to inspire young people to take the skills they learn in school and develop a passion and a confidence in reading. Public Libraries allow, not just children, but the whole community to become independant learners, and without them, we will be returned to a society of “haves” and “have nots”.

    Alison Lingham. School librarian

  287. Lauren Niland says:

    Librarian and library user.

    Don’t have much to add to this, just agree with it all!
    This:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/from-the-archive-blog/2011/may/10/guardian190-libraries

    says a lot (it was written in 1852, but still holds true today.)

    • Hazel Lawlor says:

      Please add my name to this letter. I am a single parent and library user. My local library (Rose Hill) is under threat, the very same library which is full of local school children everyday when school finishes (including my own), internet users at all hours of the day, people popping in to read the paper, babies and toddlers taking part in baby bounce, tot rock and story/craft hour, elderly people meeting for games and social groups. Don’t let Suffolk County Council ruin our library service. Please!

  288. Katharine Parker says:

    I grew up in Gloucester where first the Junior and then the Adult Library were a life-line to me. Even today books from my local library have the power to take me wherever I want to go and feed my need for knowledge. Please Mr Vaizey do not take such wonderful opportunities away from the children and adults of Gloucester.

    From Katharine Parker

  289. ‘If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.’ Cicero was talking to other wealthy Romans, of course. The beauty of our society in the last 150 years has been that such ideals have (at least in principle) been extended to include everybody – public libraries, public parks. Current policy is reversing this. Do we want libraries to be the preserve of the wealthy again? What would be the reaction from the government if councils started closing down the parks?

    Libraries are green spaces for the mind. We all need to walk in them.

    Jonathan Stroud, Children’s author

  290. anabelmarsh says:

    Libraries are vital for information, education and recreation. Information: not everything is on Google and not everyone has online access anyway. Libraries and librarians can guide people to the right information and also teach them how to find it themselves. Education: the next generation needs to have access to libraries for literacy and learning. Not everyone has a place to study at home and the means to access the resources they need. Recreation: again, not everyone can afford to buy books, however cheap and easy Amazon might seem to those with the means. I come back to the needs of the next generation and the importance of nurturing literacy and the love of reading in the young. This needs access to far more books than most families can buy. For all these reasons, libraries should be nurtured and encouraged to improve where necessary.

    Anabel Marsh, academic librarian and former public librarian.

  291. Pat Gifford says:

    As a minister and chair of a governing body of an inner city school I believe it is vital for the community to have acess to library services.They provide access to educational, recreational and social opportunites for those who income and resources are limited. We cannot talk about children being the future if we take away the the means to enable them to become rounded, well informed adults.

  292. sp moore says:

    I would not be where I am today if it where not for the following: Dinnington Public Library, Sheffield public reference and lending library, my school libraries, (especially the sixth form library), my university library and Holborn Public Library. I still use Richmond Public Libraries and the City of London libraries. Protect all our libraries for the self motivated kids who are not getting what they need elsewhere. Protect them for life long learners. Keep the bookstock rich, current and extensive. Please go in search of a difficult target rather than always choosing the soft options to cut. Open NEW libraries inside our communities – now that would be truly inspirational government.

  293. Rob Lawrence-Jones - cabinet maker says:

    Libraries are still very important to the whole community.

  294. Libraries play a crucial (and relatively cheap) role in keeping us all healthy. Closures and cuts are just another threat to this country’s well-being.

  295. Geraldine Warner says:

    Library user. Nothing to add apart from my strong agreement. We dumb our society down at our peril!

  296. Gary Green says:

    Gary Green, Librarian

    It’s unbelievable that library campaigners have had to take on your role Mr Vaizey, and superintend their own local library services whilst local authorities try to pull them apart. After the publication, week after week, of headline news stories (for the past year) about these cuts I really can’t understand why you haven’t responded in the same manner as you did in 2009 with the Wirral closures. Many of these cuts are equally as ‘offensive and outrageous’.

  297. Anne Rooney – author of books for children and adults

  298. Pingback: Support for Open Letter continues to grow | Alan Gibbons’ Blog

  299. We have made a big mistake with Libraries in recent years. During the last administration, there was an over-reliance on digital media, which has led to bear and empty libraries. I can remember when libraries were Aladdin’s caves of books, some reference books were over fifty years old, and we could communicate over time. Since we destroyed the school curriculum by narrowing it. If libraries go, we will lose a valuable resource to re-educate and inform the population and help ensure democracy. The alternative is a George Orwell world where knowledge, entertainment and learning are contrived and restricted.

  300. Stephen Trinder says:

    Closure of libraries is philistinism by a corrupt government / cabinet willing to have our media dominated by Murdoch mafiosi. Public Libraries Act 1964 obliges govt to provide public libraries

  301. Helen Saunders says:

    Mr Vaizey, you were highly critical of library closures in opposition. Please live up to what you promised then, and don’t be led astray by the likes of young management consultants and members of think tanks who seem to influence policy unduly. Everything is most certainly not available free on the Internet, not everybody has access to it, literacy is important for the young and libraries are important for many elderly and otherwise isolated people. You already know all this. There are other, far less damaging, savings which could be made.

    Helen Price Saunders, academic librarian, former public librarian

  302. Simon Gurevitz says:

    As a member of Friends of Preston Rd library, part of SoS libraries in Brent, we have identified that Brent Council has lied, misled by omission and has no numerate ability whatsoever. Six libraries are supposed to absorb the capacity of another six and Brent claims that despite the extra distance to be travelled and cost to be incurred usage will actually increase. Further, it has only now been revealed that the largest of the six remaining libraries, Willesden – an expensive failure – is to be closed for two years for a total rebuild. It would seem impossible to believe that the resultant service is both comprehensive and efficient yet Ministers Hunt and Vaizey are thus far unable or unwilling to pronounce. Do Ministers believe that it is satisfactory to accept their salary while avoiding their duties?

  303. Dr. Judith Wardle, co-ordinator Save Oxfordshire Libraries says:

    I am signing this letter as the co-ordinator of Save Oxfordshire Libraries. The decision here was taken on December 12th by Scrutiny and Cabinet — full Council not given a vote. For the present no library will close, but local library support groups have had imposed on them a requirement to recruit volunteers, in spite of consultation responses that showed NONE of them expect to be able to find the numbers required and are even struggling to keep the support groups going. I note that the affected libraries in Mr Vaisey’s constituency are among the 5 having to cover 1/3 of current staff time with volunteers, not 1/2 as in 16 rural areas of Oxon. We fear that libraries will gradually start to fail in places where the demand for volunteers for other community groups is already at saturation point. Oxfordshire produced its own definition of “need” and of a “comprehensive and efficient service” but the methodology was seriously flawed. We hope that the Select Committee for Culture, Media & Sport will recommend a more reasonable legal definition.

    • Shirley Burnham says:

      Oxfordshire has indeed produced its own definition of “need” and of a “comprehensive and efficient service”. The synergy between your council’s rhetoric and that of its friends in central government does not surprise.
      .
      We might expect the CMS Select Committee to stand by Francis Bennion’s analysis of the key provisions of his Public Libraries & Museums Act 1964. As it was he who drafted it, who better to clarify the legal definitions you are seeking ? http://www.voicesforthelibrary.org.uk/wordpress/?p=2025&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
      .
      Good luck in your splendid efforts to protect your library service.

  304. Val Gould says:

    Valerie Gould, School Librarian. On behalf of the many enthusiastic users of both my library and our wonderful little public library in Stowmarket, Suffolk.

  305. We wholeheartedly support this open letter to Ed Vaizey.

    Many councils, including Croydon, have used the narrow focus on closure in their consultations, to deflect from the wider issues. But residents don’t just want their libraries open, they want them to offer a comprehensive service to meet the varied needs of all who wish to or need to use it; a service that can only be delivered by qualified librarians and experienced staff.

    What we are witnessing is the slow, or in the case of places such as Lewisham, the extremely rapid decline in the service on offer where libraries have been “saved” by other means such as reduced staff, reduced hours and the use of volunteers to replace experienced and qualified staff.

    In the case of Croydon there have been hidden cuts. The drastic reduction in qualified and experienced staff has already had a very detrimental effect on the service and on staff morale. The remaining staff continue to do their best under very difficult and uncertain circumstances.

    The concerns raised by residents across the borough are evidence of the reduced service, yet the council refuses to listen and ploughs on with its plans to outsource our library network.

    Your inaction, Mr Vaizey, allows councils to continue with their damaging and short-sighted plans for libraries. The time for you to act is well overdue!

    Save Croydon Libraries Campaign, formerly Save Sanderstead Library Campaign

  306. I can add little to the sensible comments made above. It is simply short-sighted to attack public libraries which are so vital to the community when there are many more useful savings that could be made by local councils. How many man hours are wasted on useless projects such as unnecessary street signage/CRB checks/health & safety checks/poor quality road repairs…I could go on. There are dozens of things that councils could do better, more efficiently and more cheaply…but don’t cut back on libraries.

  307. The advice from civil servants to ministers will be for ministers to not act while any legal action is pending, However, as the letter points out, campaigners should not have had to go through all the stress and cost of having to go to the courts in the first place.

    Ministers should have acted decisively before things got this far. The Culture Select Committee should have also acted sooner. Generations of children will suffer if local authorities across the land are to be allowed to engage in these depraved acts of short termism in closing and then disposing of libraries.

    They say that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Closing and selling off Preston Library in Brent is exactly that. A permanent solution to a temporary problem – the temporary problem being a Council Executive that lacks the drive and ingenuity to raise funds through new and exciting methods.

  308. Julie Deane says:

    A young boy today at my local library was very excited at being able to take home with him a whole bagful of library books to keep him occupied over the Christmas holiday. I cannot see many parents being able to buy such a supply for their children. We need libraries and we need them to be local and accessible to all.

  309. Tim Davies says:

    Tim Davies, Chair, Stonehouse Branch Labour Party, for and on behalf of the Stonehouse Branch Labour Party.

  310. Painswick Public Library is being sold. This was an essential public asset. I am appalled and heartbroken. The people will never get another one. Gone forever?

  311. Jenny Schwarz says:

    The thing I love most about being a librarian is the sense of community I feel going to work each week and having the pleasure of greeting our many members. Seeing the same group of customers each week I have got to know many of them and I love the fact that unlike in many jobs a customer is just a customer and just one of the many, working in the library you get to greet and get to know them, it’s a really friendly feeling, and I think there are few other jobs which emulate this. Of course books are also very important, I have loved reading all my life and always will, it’s one of I think only a few complete escapes anyone can enjoy in life. A library is not just a building it is a treasury of books and information and a vital community and these are things that I value, and consider irreplaceable.

  312. Roger Higgs says:

    Retired Headteacher – yet more shortsightedness, supposedly for financial gain, but at the expense of future generations. Once they’ve gone they won’t come back.

  313. So many young people studying for exams use libraries for the books, the computers and the calm atmosphere. Where will they go when libraries are no more?

    Diana Basterfield
    Author

  314. Sylvia Knights, Town Councillor and Library Campaigner, Bungay, Suffolk says:

    If we allow those in power, who know the cost of everything and the value of nothing; who seem not to know, or understand, the joy of books and knowledge available in public libraries, and their position at the heart of the community, to decimate the system, we will be responsible for condemning generations to a future bound by illiteracy and ignorance.

  315. David Drew says:

    What a shame that National & Local Government believes that consultation is only to ask a question and then not even listen to the reply. Our hard won democracy is being demolished by those who think they do not need it.

  316. Cllr Karon Cross says:

    Cllr Karon Cross – Councillor for Cainscross, Leader of the Labour Group – Stroud District Council.
    Universities are unobtainable for many – libraries are there for all. Oops sorry not anymore, as yet again the Tory Government takes something else from the masses. Many of us can’t afford to buy books and there is something special about using the library, having the world in writing on your doorstep! Education and literature for the few here we come!!

  317. Janet Taplin says:

    As an ex librarian in Gloucestershire (and other authorities) and a campaingner on the Isle of Wight I would like add my name to this letter

    Janet Taplin

  318. Bridget James says:

    For children everywhere and their future, libraries are everything. There are many ways our Council in Oxon could be more efficient. Please review the stats, the argument and the logic. Our detailed submission during consultation detailing how we could keep our library in Benson open, and save OCC money, was IGNORED.

  319. Janey Morris says:

    I’m 94 years old now and have trouble getting out and about but my family get me large print books from my local library. Don’t reduce my choices even further by taking libraries away from local communities, they do a great job for people like me.

  320. Janette Dubois says:

    Libraries are a wonderful resource for individuals and communities, they help to inform and develop us by opening up the world to us all. As well as the services that you’d expect such as access to information, computers, books, audio books and CDs along with storytimes, library clubs for people who can’t get out, in Gloucestershire they issue bus passes, help with family & local history, have visits by people from Pensions service, have job clubs, computer clubs, Credit Unions ……the list goes on. Libraries aren’t just about swapping books, libraries really matter and can make a real difference to people’s lives.

  321. Deb Cresswell says:

    I wish to be added to the open letter to Ed Vaizey. Libraries are about more than just books, e.g. my mum picks up 6 books a fortnight at her mobile library and looks forward to the little outing. It is a real anchor in my mum’s stressful life (she arranges her visits to my dad’s nursing home around it and her ladies’ club). This is in Tendring, Essex – is the government going to deny simple pleasures such as this?

  322. Michael Taplin says:

    As one who was disappointed to receive your ‘standard reply’ when I wrote to you concerning Isle of Wight libraries, I hope you will review your inaction and realise the strength of feeling that electors in this country feel. Get on with your job and show some teeth to local politicians of all persuasions who think depriving communities of their libraries is something they can get away with easily.

  323. Lorna Frost says:

    It is so important that we continue to support our libraries in promoting not only literacy, but also knowledge and excitement about our history and culture.

  324. Jeffrey Boss says:

    I wish to be considered a signatory to this letter. I am retired from adult education. My own education as a scientist and university lecturer was profoundly influenced by books borrowed from public libraries, starting in the 1939-1945 war, when our borough (Fulham) increased the number of libraries and the open hours as a contribution to the war effort. Such is the social power of public libraries.

  325. Cathryn Webb says:

    Mr Vaisey
    Part of your brief is to protect and defend this country’s Library service. Over the past year you have remained silent and inactive as councils all over the country have been decimating Library services, whereas, in opposition, you accused Andy Burnham of “ignoring his responsibilities” for not intervening in the Wirral closures. The High Court has ruled that Gloucestershire and Somerset’s plans are illegal and all over the country Libraries are threatened with closure – what more must it take until YOU intervene and stand up for Libraries! Please step up to the mark and do your job!
    Cathryn Webb, Librarian.

  326. R Sweet, PhD student says:

    I agree that libraries are the mark of a civilised society. Moreover, I would like to point out that once you have a generation growing up without the idea that one of the functions of the state is to help its citizens access cultural resources – a generation where access to those resources is even more sharply determined by whose parents can and cannot afford better computers and more books – we will be, to put it bluntly, in trouble.
    Well, except for those who can make considerably more money from their consumers if those consumers are less literate, less imaginative and less able to gather information for themselves and spot bad arguments. They will be doing very nicely.

  327. Elizabeth Ash says:

    The types of cuts we have experienced in Croydon are insidious. The very loud message from Croydon Council is that they have listened and our libraries have been saved, yet quietly we have lost qualified and experienced staff as part of an internal reshuffle, leading to a greatly reduced service. They also quietly seek to outsource the whole network and deny residents access to the data they say informed this decision. http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/breakdown_of_responses_to_librar#incoming-191819

    An open door does not necessarily give open access to the resource held within, although even an open door has been a struggle in Croydon, on occasion. We value our qualified and experienced staff and they must be provided in sufficient numbers to run a comprehensive service.

    Croydon is not alone. Do you really want to be known for your inaction, Mr Vaizey? People are not up in arms over nothing.

    I do hope you take heed and focus on the real impact of library cuts across the country rather than sit back and watch the systematic destruction of our great public libraries service.

    Please, please act!

    Elizabeth Ash, Croydon Libraries campaigner

  328. Sarah Harris says:

    I am the author of a number of history books for young people which have been borrowed by thousands of students over the years to support their project work and widen their understanding of our past. Close libraries and you close off the breadth and depth of information and ideas that help minds grow and learn to think. Please add my name to the letter

  329. Sarah Waters says:

    Dear Mr Vaizey – please pay attention to these passionate, articulate, well-informed comments! We all care deeply about the UK’s library service. Can you demonstrate to us that you do, too?

    Sarah Waters – author, reader and ex-library assistant

  330. The disgraceful proposal of Croydon Council to close Libraries sparked rebellion in the borough. Almost a year on, we are still waiting to know what will happen to our Libraries. It is a scandal.
    I am happy to sign the above letter

  331. Linsey Chrisman says:

    Dear Mr. Vaizey,
    Public libraries represent amazing value for money. Library spending represents about 1% of most local authority budgets, yet they are used by 60% of residents in my borough.
    Public libraries are many things to many people, as you can see from the comments on this letter, and I won’t try to comment on all of them. I am a Children’s Librarian and I see how libraries can contribute to children’s literacy every day. Literacy is not just about formal teaching, it is about being able to explore books for yourself, exercise free choice, enjoy, and expand your horizons. Libraries provide a safe environment where this can happen, with help available but without direction. School libraries are valuable, but play a different role. Public libraries are where families can go together, at times which are convenient for them, and children can explore books in non-school context. They also provide services for children who are not in school, like those under five. Research shows that early experiences with books and reading aloud are key for the development of literacy.
    Volunteers can play a role in libraries, but not the only or even the main role in running them. Libraries need the professionalism, consistency, knowledge and experience that only paid staff can bring over the long term.

  332. Julie Nicol says:

    Dear Mr Vaizey,
    I have been a library user since before I could read. Here are some ways I, and others I know, have benefited from libraries over the years:
    * I visited the library every Saturday as a child and took out several books each time. I read far more books than my parents could ever have hoped to buy me (and I didn’t have to store them in the house!).
    * My mum volunteered for a number of years taking library books to the homes of housebound people, providing both entertainment and social interaction.
    * It was a quiet place to work away from the distractions of home when I was a student.
    * Access to reference materials and books that I needed but couldn’t afford to buy.
    * Access to the internet when I didn’t have a computer.
    * My friends regularly take their children to ‘wriggle and rhyme’ giving both adults and children valuable social interaction as well as educating the children in a fun way.
    * Access to local history materials for researching family history.
    * Looking through trade papers for job adverts when I was unemployed.
    Taking away library services hurts everybody but particularly the poor, the elderly, those in education, the unemployed and the isolated.
    Julie Nicol, library user

  333. kate hill says:

    please keep matson library open

  334. Revd Al Barrett says:

    I fully support this letter. Libraries are one of the few public spaces we have left, and it is vital that we protect them. In neighbourhoods like my own, where income levels are among the lowest in the country, the opportunity to access books for free, for both children and adults, is a priceless treasure. Even now we have to travel to our nearest library. To expect them to run without paid staff, especially in areas like mine, is utter fiction.

  335. R. Lennard Friends of Preston Library / Brent SOS. says:

    I wholeheartedly support this open letter to Mr. Vaizey. Closure of libraries damages people in the communuty from all walks of life. I can’t understand how anyone would ever think closing libraries is a justifiable act.

  336. I am happy to add my signature to this open letter to Ed Vaizey. I am not a registered library user. It would appear that only registered users concerns are being considered by local councils and GCC in particular. I am a council tax payer, a voter and a concerned citizen.

    Surely this issue, like many revisions of services being made by national and local government at present, concerns the whole of society. We are in forums like this discussing the very fabric of what is considered a “modern society” something our forefathers have fought long and hard for over the centuries.

    H.H.J Mckenna in his judgement made an interesting observation about the decision of Somerset CC & Gloucestershire CC “…if allowed to stand, would result in major and unfavorable changes to the provision of statutory services for persons generally in Somerset and Gloucestershire and in particular for the classes of persons most affected by library closure.” He recognises the general as well as the particular.

    Mr Vaizey you have a superintendary duty to look after the statutory provision of the library service. You are the peoples representative in government. You cannot stand back and say it is up to local government. You must step in. It will be very interesting to hear what questions you will be asked to answer when this issue is raised by the DCMS Select committee in their inquiry. Mr Vaizey gives us all a fabulous Christmas present this year. Say something about this issue. Do not sit on the fence as an embarrassed minister.

    • “It would appear that only registered users concerns are being considered by local councils” but registered users views aren’t being considered either David, which is why it ended up in the courts. No ones views are being considered apart from those of the bullish county Councillor leading the council who appears to have no understanding of the importance of libraries and how they work.

  337. We hark back to the old slogan ‘Libraries Open and Free’. That is the aim of everyone who has signed this letter but is is becoming increasingly difficult to uphold. While there are good new developments and some services doing well with incearsingly constrained resources, central government cannot pretend that it has no role both because it is the provider of most local authority funding as well the place where legal oversight rests.

  338. Nicola Solomon, General Secretary of the Society of Authors says:

    Libraries are an essential resource to provide education and information and to stimulate imagination and creativity. They are at the heart of local communities and are simply too important to be left to the whim of local authorities- they should be protected by Government funding and legislation.

  339. Sarah Lewis-Newton says:

    It seems I’ve been reading (and having a joyful weep at the messages of support) for a while and realised I’d not added my name. I’m rectifying that immediately!

    Sarah Lewis-Newton, Library Manager, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

  340. Rev. Clodagh Ingram says:

    My children and I have many shared memories of library visits where we were made welcome and received all the help we asked for in sourcing books we were unable to find on the shelves. The summer reading schemes were of real value in encouraging them to read and take a growing interest in liturature. The Gloucester library service serves the whole community and must be preserved at a time when so many other services have disappeared. I support this open letter whole heartedly.

  341. andrew watt says:

    these closures are unfair and should be stopped
    Andrew Watt, Student

  342. David Smith, Acting Chairman, Friends of Wool Library says:

    In a rural part of Dorset those that are hardest hit by the closure the local library in Wool are the very young, who are being introduced to the magic of books but will suffer from the lack of joined-up thinking which will prevent the complementary activity of the Library supporting their early reading in school, and the very old who cannot make the two-hour round trip by public transport to the nearest urban library and use the limited opening hours of our library as a community hub. Again for the latter there is a lack of joined-up thinking given the current issues of dementia. How many more times must we invoke “Mens sana in corpore sano”. We are co-operating with our County authorities in seeing if we can run the library on a community basis but we feel let down that for a largely rural county an urban solution has been the political response to the choice of service provision cuts. Please add Friends of Wool Library to the signatories

  343. I used libraries (both school and public) throughout my childhood and my own children have been and still are dependent on our local library for books. I doubt I would be an author today if libraries hadn’t existed.

  344. Gaynor Sorrell, an American friend of Gloucestershire Libraries says:

    What is more important in a library than anything else – than everything else – is the fact that it exists. ~Archibald MacLeish, “The Premise of Meaning,” American Scholar, 5 June 1972
    Our public libraries are among our most cherished institutions. It is appalling that in 2011 our British friends must fight to retain this essential pillar of democratic society.

  345. Hazel Wright says:

    Please add my name on the list : Hazel Wright. I am a divorce and family solicitor (www.divorce-london.co.uk) . My clients use libraries to find out about their rights, to find support from the self-help groups, to access the internet, and as a beacon of civilisation at a time when all about them is changing. I use libraries as a source of my knowledge, which is then applied to help others. Oh, and I am also studying part time for an MA in History, I get my research material from my local library, which orders it for me. My children are both at university, using their libraries every day. We need libraries, more not fewer !

  346. william starkey says:

    We are a family of library lovers and would be very much lost if anything happened to out local library in Tewkesbury

  347. Dot Singleton says:

    Public librararies are an essential part of our education system that allows access for people of all ages and social brackets to access a wealth of materials. As a braillist working with Visually Impaired students in a main stream school I am very aware of the use my students make of facilities in the South East area, and how important it is to them.

  348. Jess Egerton says:

    Dear Mr Vaizey
    Since discovering the Library in Bampton it has opened up many new worlds to me and enriched my life tremendously. Having not had children, ways in which to conect with others in the local community are more limited and yet through the library I’ve met no end of interesting people from all walks of life and differing ages.
    It has also given me deep and rich vein of research material which I can instantly get to and access when I’m researching one of my books.
    And when I didn’t have my own computor then it provided much needed access to the internet and invlauable help from the staff.
    Finally (but not by no means not all I have to say on the subject without going on at greater length), through the displays that the thoroughly knowledgable librarians place around each area in the Library I have found and read a huge range of books and authors that I would not have otherwise discovered.

  349. Jaqueline Mitchell says:

    Please add my name. I am a Gloucestershire Library user, but have been a passionate and committed library user since I was a young child; indeed, the library reading then probably led me to the publishing career I now follow. It is vital for the elderly, the disadvantaged and all of us who wish to give some credence to the importance of reading as a means of education, information and entertainment for all that libraries remain open and operate freely as a vital part of our communities.

  350. Ben Kane says:

    Libraries are an essential part of life for so many people – from children to teenagers, adults and the elderly. Please do not close any more!
    Ben Kane, bestselling novelist.

  351. Spare the libraries! They help people become knowledgeable and employable and valuable members of society and the economy. Closing them is a short-sighted solution.

  352. Theresa Watt, Labour Councillor, Stonehouse Town council. says:

    Communities likes ours in Stonehouse with a concentration of fairly deprived housing, need to have access to libraries for our children to develope and grow as well as adults who use the libraries for leisure and research. We need to maintain a good library service in Gloucestershire to meet all the community needs.

  353. Caroline Scaramanga says:

    Libraries are the first step in loving books – please do not close them,
    Caroline Scaramanga

  354. Libraries are an essential part of our education and heritage, and should be maintained and protected.

  355. My parents had very little money but when I was growing up, there was never a shortage of books because every week, my Mum used to take me to the local library. This was a place of immense wonder, where I discovered the likes of Alan Garner. I think I must have read maybe six books a week. I can clearly remember, the green library cards and the joy of hearing the thud of a stamp and the new ink which was made the books *mine* for a brief time. I went on to revise for my A levels here, as the local school was just next door, then my Oxbridge exam, which I passed by some miracle. Reading English Literature was an extension of a life and an imagination transformed by my local library. How can we let such places go? I simply don’t understand. Now I am a published author, I visit my local libraries to give talks and these friendly hubs thrum with the noise of young people and old, all mixed in together, clicking on the internet or chatting in the ante rooms over a coffee or flicking the pages of a well thumbed book. The life of a community, one of the few free things to do in town. Throw it away? Discard it? Chuck it in the bin like so much rubbish just because you think you can? No Mr Cameron, I don’t think so. We are bigger than you. We are bigger than politics. We are the people who are going to save our libraries whether you like it or not. Just watch us…

  356. Please save our libraries. If the country is to get back on its feet, we need more education, not less. Apart from which, libraries are a joy.

  357. Frank Daniels. Retired music librarian says:

    Dear Ed,

    You have a library at your place of work, don’y you? How would you like to see that closed, or privatised? If all this cost-cutting is so beneficial for the country at large, why don’t MPs set an example. If you want the public to be illiterate then why no the MPs also?

  358. Ingar Palmlund, Ph.D. says:

    Public libraries are an essential and necessary part of the social infrastructure in any society where people try to create a better future for themselves and others, especially at times when the economic winds are harsh. I strongly support the open letter to the Culture Minister protesting against cuts and closures.

  359. In Wandsworth, the council opted to single out for closure a library in the most deprived ward. The message given was that this was a way to ‘save’ the rest of the library service. This library, in York Gardens, on the edge of a large council estate and moments from the scenes of recent riots, has played a particularly significant role for local children – providing homework clubs and other learning opportunities as well as access to computers in an area where literacy is low, housing conditions are sometimes overcrowded and home computer ownership is much below the national average. It also contains a valuable community centre. The library remains open today only because of a significant backlash in the local community against the closure and a community group (‘the Friends of York Gardens Library’) with membership from a number of local stakeholder groups, working with the council to allow the library to continue to run with much reduced funding. Amongst other things, the ‘Friends’ group is compelled to raise £70,000 a year to keep things going. It is being called Wandsworth’s Big Society library. However, while it relies on the enthusiasm of a group of local people there is no certainty that the library and community centre will be sustainable in the long term. As in other areas, the council should be prioritising services in deprived areas, ensuring that children and adults can freely access to books, newspapers and computers as well as all the other services that qualified library professionals are able to offer. A Big Society ‘solution’ risks deprofessionalisation, inefficiencies and the loss of services that could play a crucial role in building and integrating communities, developing skills and driving economic growth.

    We fully support and wish to add our signature to this letter.
    The Friends of York Gardens Library

  360. demelzajade says:

    Thanks so much to everyone who has taken the time to sign this letter and spread the word – the response has been fantastic! The letter is now closed to new signatures, so we can collate everything and get it sent to Ed Vaizey MP.

    Thanks, Demelza (on behalf of Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries)

  361. Paul Dowswell says:

    Libraries are a hallmark of a decent society. Reading is something all children should be encouraged to do. Readers, from all walks of life, get on in the world – its a simple as that. Closing libraries is closing the door to opportunities, especially to people who have very few.

  362. Pingback: Open Letter attracts 456 signatures | Alan Gibbons’ Blog

  363. Cherry Ann says:

    Libraries are one of the crucial elements that enable us to claim that we are a civilised society – books and the many resources libraries offer are an important complement to our education system. That they are free, accessible and available to all is a fundamental part of their role. Closures and reductions in services are striking hardest at those people least able to find their resources by other means.

  364. Pingback: LEARNING FROM WILE E.COYOTE’S MISTAKES « ANIMAL MY SOUL

  365. I don’t know where Vaizey and co think their educated generations are going to come from without the backup of our public libraries. The internet is quite good but it doesn’t have the depth and maybe not even the breadth needed.

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