The following letter was published in several local newspapers. The authors have kindly allowed us to publish it here.
No part of the community is likely to suffer more from the proposed closures and cuts to public libraries in Gloucestershire than our children. The effect on literacy levels in the county is likely to be catastrophic.
Let’s look at the facts. The library service in Gloucestershire lends 3.3 million books and other media each year. Of that, 1,140,000 books are loaned to our children or to parents for children. That’s 34% of the total.
That the county council can achieve this for only 1% of its budget is brilliant. However, it now proposes to close, hand over to local communities to fund, or to reduce to a mere collection point 23 of our 42 libraries. This is a cut to the service of 43% – the largest percentage cut for any county council service. And this follows a 24% cut in the previous two years. How are children expected to drop in to their local library when they need to? It won’t be there, or it won’t be open.
Thousands of children and their parents flock to libraries in the summer break for the Summer Reading Challenge with book based competitions and activities. Library staff in Gloucestershire have worked incredibly hard to achieve the buy-in from families each summer. It is a huge success with a high percentage of the county’s children joining in.
National research shows that teachers and parents value this reading challenge because children who take part read more books, maintain their literacy levels during the school holidays, and return to school more enthusiastic about reading as a result. But this activity is likely to be a thing of the past as the Summer Reading Challenge will only be run at main libraries.
To compound the closures and cuts to services, the book fund is being cut by 60%, and nearly half the library staff in the county (at all levels) will be made redundant.
The effect on literacy levels in the county is incalculable.
Whilst nearly 11,000 people are signatories to a petition to ask Gloucestershire County Council to undertake an independent and transparent review of its proposals for the library service, everyone needs to complete the library consultation survey at
You should also write to Councillors Hawthorne and Noble, the architects of these permanently damaging proposals, at shire hall, and to your local councillor to let them know your views.
If you are not sure of your local councillor’s details, ask at your local library – while it is still open.
We are all former senior members of staff at Gloucestershire Library Service
Please help us to persuade the County Council to rethink these devastating plans by signing this county-wide petition.
Read how important the mobile libraries are to Mily (10) here. All mobile services are set to be axed under the current proposals. Cerys and Abbie (11) tell us how important their library is to them here.