Saturday 5th February was the national day of action for libraries, and Gloucestershire participated in style!
Events were held at all 36 Gloucestershire libraries which are open on Saturdays, with each receiving either a ‘Flying Author’ visit or an author or storyteller event, as well as a host of other activities including kids’ drawing, poster and craft workshops, story-times, theatre and music, and read-ins.
It was a great day, and sent the message loud and clear that the people of Gloucestershire love, value and use their libraries!
Here are a few accounts of the day from library users across the county:
“The day at Churchdown went very well, especially in the morning when the library was full of kids in costume singing away, colouring and making things while Alice Jolly’s creative writing workshop was going on. All in all a very successful day. Highlight of the day – a new member for the library, just 2 months old!”
Hesters Way Library
“We had a brilliant day at Hesters Way, with lots of kids turning up for Hannah Shaw’s poster workshop and John Dougherty’s ‘flying author’ visit, plus a hilarious performance by John Bassett of Spaniel in the Works Theatre Company in the afternoon. The library was busy with people of all ages, and there was a buzzing atmosphere and lots of smiling faces. We also think we might have a record for the county’s youngest library user, as Nancy came along to join her three-week old daughter Alexandra up!”
Demelza, Hesters Way
Charlton Kings Library
“We had quite a day at Charlton Kings! From the raffle tickets that we handed out at the door we know that we had at least 150 people through the doors – probably more like 200 counting all younger children. Lots of people wanting to know more information about the cuts and – amazingly – several who had heard nothing at all about the plans until they walked through our doors. Lots of people filling in the council’s survey – the librarians kept having to photocopy more, and Horrid Henry made two appearances! We had a lot of people writing on the scroll which got a lot of conversation going. It felt like a real community event.”
Becky Gardner, Charlton Kings
“My whole extended family went along to Longlevens Library this morning: me, two daughters and their partners and three grandchildren. The two eldest children took out twenty books each and the rest of us took what we could carry. My eldest granddaughter (6) said, “Are we being naughty?” (by taking out the maximum number of books) and got quietly excited at the thought of testing (but not breaking) the rules! I also listened to one reading, and the whole series of events was well attended”
“The event was very successful, with several dozen participants in the vigil, and many more stopping to talk, sign the petition and generally showing their approval.”
Lydney Library was host to 4 hours of fun. Younger library customers enjoyed having stories read to them, and made fantastic animal masks with a Chinese New Year theme – lost of wonderful rabbits, dragons, dogs, mice, tigers and goats were created. People of all ages helped to create a colourful “We Love Lydney Library” mural. It is now hanging from the top floor bannister, just behind the photocopier. Please feel free to add to it, should you visit the library.
The crowning highlight and finale was children’s author John Doherty paying a Flying Visit. For many of his young fans it was a dream come true, and he delighted and surprised us with reading from his latest book, talking about his love for libraries, singing songs, reciting funny poems, and expressing his distaste about Gloucestershire County Council censoring press coverage of events on this day by not allowing any press into libraries.
Here are reflections from children’s authors John Dougherty and Cindy Jefferies, who together with our other ‘Flying Authors’ visited all 36 Saturday opening libraries across the county! (Well done to them and their ‘pilots’!)
“I’ve had a fantastic day – it was lots of fun. We had lots of very different sessions across the county and met some great people. I’m exhausted now!
Going forward, I hope people keep on using their libraries and give feedback to their councils. I don’t feel Gloucestershire council has done enough to let people know about the cuts to the library service. Its website says that this is not just about the cuts but the changing needs of users, which I think is disingenuous to say the least.
Kick up a fuss, don’t take this lying down libraries are too important to lose.”
“It’s been a phenomenally successful day in Gloucestershire; we’ve had authors in every library in the county. I actually visited 11 libraries, one more than scheduled – and surprised my rival John by turning up there while he was performing!
I have met some fantastically driven people from all walks of life today – it’s been a very moving day.
The thing that gets me is that we’ve been telling developing countries for ages that education is the most important thing. If you educate people, they will go out and contribute to society in a positive way. What are we doing? You can’t tell me that libraries don’t educate – I’ve seen it in every library I’ve walked into today.”
Despite Gloucestershire County Council’s attempts to ban the media from filming or photographing these events, there’s some great coverage so far. Throughout the day ‘Flying Authors’ John Dougherty and Cindy Jefferies kept in touch with the live blog on the Guardian website, and we also received national coverage from the BBC. Locally, the events are today featured in the Echo/Citizen and we expect them to feature in the other weekly local papers later this week.
The coverage also went international, as John Dougherty was interviewed by National Public Radio (NPR), which broadcasts to around 30 million people across the USA! Following the interview, John received this email from Jeanne, in Rolling Meadows, Illinois:
“On behalf of the children of Central Road School we wish to thank you for your efforts in saving England’s libraries. We love our library and could not imagine life without our local town libraries or school libraries. Thank you for your efforts in sustaining the love and vital importance of libraries near and far.”
Thanks to everyone who took part and made the day a success! Lots of photos from events across the county can be viewed here. John Dougherty has written a blog post about his adventures on the day here, and ‘Flying Poet’ Marcus Moore’s pilot for the day, Steve has written his account of the day here.