A countrywide web of protest about library cuts continued this weekend, as a day of action was planned for 5th February. The tag #savelibraries was one of the top trending topics on Twitter over the weekend, as campaigners mobilised and the press soaked it up. Both Tory culture minister Ed Vaizey and MLA chief executive Roy Clare got caught up in the media maelstrom with Vaizey claiming to "very active" in defending libraries, and Clare threatening the Daily Mail over a report that claimed he'd dismissed libraries as the preserve of the middle-classes.
Annie Mauger, chief executive of Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (Cilip), said: "This is not just about what libraries do, it is about what they represent: free access to knowledge and information for everyone. It feels Orwellian that we'll wake up one day and a third of all the libraries are gone. Is that the type of society we want?"
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The Bookseller magazine has also launched a campaign to oppose the "wantonly destructive cuts to the national library service".Called Fight for Libraries, the campaign will be centred around a Facebook site where news about library cuts and opposition to them will be reported, and which will also function as a hub for all news, sites and information on the struggle against library cuts.
The site will operate from http://bit.ly/fight4libraries and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/fight4libraries
The next few weeks are critical to the future of libraries in this country, and to the literary culture they help support. Up to 800 libraries are faxed with the axe in the coming days.
"I don't think David Cameron wants to be remembered as the Prime Minister closed down all the libraries," says Editor-in-chief of The Bookseller Neill Denny.
The Facebook site hosts a manifesto and a set of demands, with The Bookseller supporting the calls for a national public enquiry into the library service, demanding a halt to the unfair and disproportionate targeting of libraries for cuts, and calling for the 1964 Libraries Act to be observed in letter and spirit. It also has a poll asking people to commit to supporting libraries.
"Libraries are under threat right now. A library lost today will not be re-opened tomorrow - the book trade has to take a stand," added Denny. "