Below are some of the many messages we have been receiving from library users and staff telling us why libraries are important to them and their community.
Cerys and Abbie are both 11 years old, and visit Hesters Way Library regularly. They shared a statement they have written for the County Council, and told us what this library means to them.
I am 10 and love to read, so I am very upset about the library cuts. I use the mobile library lots as my mum and dad work so we don’t have time to visit the local library.
On my small close where I live in Blockley (the nearest library is 4 miles away) there are 18 or more children who always go to the library bus and I see a lot of adults there too.
I enjoy walking to the library bus with my younger brother and sisters , I spend ages choosing many books, some for pleasure and some for school work.
I hope this saves the library cuts.
Mily Newton, age 10
I’ve been a mum who has used the library with a toddler. I remember those days as a new mum when I was at a bit of a loose end, and how fantastic it was knowing I could just pop into my local library to spend an hour or so reading and looking at lovely picture books with my daughter (as a teenager, she’s now an avid reader, which I’m sure came out of those happy hours spent at the library). We still use the library service, and I was so pleased recently when I discovered that I could order books through the inter-library lending service which meant I could get hold of an obscure Jacques Tati biography I though I’d have to buy for about £25. We also make regular use of the CD and DVD lending service now that the finances are a bit tight.
I’m sure if you haven’t been a lonely mother, unemployed or retired – someone who just wants to get out of the house and connect with the wider world, then it’s harder to understand the emotional investment you can have in a library. If you haven’t had kids who have benefitted from trips to the library to get books that have stimulated their imaginations or helped with homework projects, you might not see what all the fuss is about. But I think libraries are a cheap and wonderful public resource that serve so many functions within their communities, and we really shouldn’t mess with them like this.
Chloë of the Midnight Storytellers is a regular user of Bourton-on-the-Water Library, and told us why libraries are important to her. Chloë is also the Northleach Town Crier, and has written about our campaign, and the impact the County Council’s plans will have on library users in Bourton-on-the-Water here.
Marion Pagan is 86, and regularly uses Hesters Ways Library with the help of her daughter-in-law Jane. Marion spoke to us about what the library means to her, and the impact a reduced service would have.
As a library user for over seven decades, visiting general and specialist libraries alike, I cannot envisage life in Gloucestershire without a full set of properly staffed and stocked libraries. Yes, there have to be cuts, but not on this wholly disproportionate scale of 43% of the public libraries budget.
I am forced to wonder whether the county council understands what librarians do all day if they think that volunteers can take charge. Librarians, whether in public or specialist libraries, need a huge range of skills for which they have undergone substantial training. Their business is to guide enquirers to all kinds of sources, by no means just the internet. To be effective at that they need knowledge built up over years of experience. It is completely unfeasible to think volunteers can even scratch that surface.
‘Schools have libraries of their own’, we are told. Go into a public library and observe how many children are there eagerly seeking out knowledge they cannot find at school.
Bear in mind too that only something like one-third of the population can use the internet at all, let alone efficiently. County councillors please search your consciences amd think again. We need a library culture if we are to remain a civilised and knowledgeable country.
Cherry Lavell, Cheltenham
Libraries tell children that books are for everyone, not just for those who can afford to buy. They tell them that reading is fun, not just a skill to be learned in bureaucratically prescribed ‘literacy hours’.
I would not be a writer, and probably not much of a reader, if not for the public library system.
John Dougherty, Stroud
As an Open University mature student I find the local library is an invaluable source of information. Whilst the university gives me electronic access to journals through the national JISC electronic library service, and other sources, I can’t borrow any of the books referred to in the course material as the remote university library (in Milton Keynes) has no facilities for doing student loans.
Gloucestershire County Council seems to think it can provide users with free ebook downloads in the future (despite clear statements to the contrary by the Publishers Association). Let me tell you about my experiences with electronic books. During November I wanted to study the Greek play Antigone by Sophlocles in response to a course module. I looked on the electronic library catalogue on Friday, and found a copy in the library which I ordered. On Saturday my son was demonstrating his new Kindle ebook to me (obtained at a discounted rate that applies to university students!). I asked him about getting hold of a copy of the play. Lo and behold he downloaded a free copy for me to read. Now this play, like Shakespeare’s, is written in rhyme, as a poem. So imaging my surprise when, on the Kindle, I found the lines of the poem run on, with only a capital letter to indicate where line breaks should occur. Worse was to come. Where the publisher had added side notes to the text these were shown inline, between two adjacent lines of the poem and without spaces either side! I read the play, over a couple of days, once I managed to work out how to increase the type size to one that was readable by an old fogey rather than a teenager. On the Tuesday I got the book I had requested from the library. Not only were there line breaks in the poem, it was a much better translation, the one chosen by the BBC when they last broadcast the plays. There was also a brilliant introduction which explained not only the background of the play but also some information about what the audience would have understood by some of the action (i.e. which door led to the city and which to the country). This material substantially extended what I learnt about the play from my university course. It was available because someone, presumably at the library, had taken the effort to work out which was the best version of the play to stock, rather than the cheapest. That’s what I need from my local library.
Martin Bryan, Churchdown
Those councillors cutting libraries and library services are invited to consider what the cost of ignorance is. Alan Bennett as a boy relied on the local public library, and libraries are vital community resource hubs.
Martin Large, Glos
I strongly oppose the closing our local libraries. They are a hub of the community and part of the infrastructure of the English way of life. I believe it is very shortsighted to think that taking away these resources that money will be saved. The damage will be considerable and in the long run the resulting vacuum will actually cost the state more money. In a world that is in need of inspiration and human community please let the council see reason and keep investing in such a positive and uplifting aspect of life.
We should force them to change their decision and invest our money in something that we really want to keep.