May 23 2013 Latest news:
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Protesters who staged a 24-hour ‘read-in’ at a library after a national day of action over threatened closures have left the building feeling “empowered”, a demonstrator said.
A group of about 15 people from the Save New Cross Library Campaign occupied a library overnight after they chose to continue their protest until noon today.
Save Our Libraries Day saw more than 100 events held across the UK to bring attention to proposed Government spending cuts.
More than 350 libraries are understood to be under threat of closure.
The national day of campaigning saw authors including Philip Pullman and the musician Billy Bragg pledge their support to libraries.
As well as ‘read-ins’, some events involved storytelling, writing workshops and music.
Protester James Holland, who spent the night at New Cross Library in south-east London, said fellow campaigners spent the night talking about libraries and playing board games.
Mr Holland, 38, who takes his three-year-old daughter to the library, said: “There is always a buzz when people cross over a little line and do something for themselves. It makes them feel empowered.
“The libraries are a big issue anyway but this shows that people can do something more. I just hope that this is the start of something rather than the end.
“Shutting libraries is a grave mistake for many local authorities.
“Libraries are something people hold very close to their hearts - even if they don’t go to them. They are ingrained in our culture.”
At the end of the protest there was a small police presence outside, said Mr Holland.
The five police officers did not try to remove demonstrators from the building but would not let anyone re-enter the premises if they left, he said.
Lauren Smith, spokewoman for Voices for the Library, said yesterday: “Local councils are having to make these decisions so quickly. Once a library is shut it will never reopen. When councils realise what they have done it will be too late.”
The day of campaigning came after a study revealed children who used their local library were twice as likely to be above average readers.
The National Literacy Trust report, based on a survey of more than 17,000 eight to 16-year-olds, revealed that almost two-thirds (64.5 per cent) of those who use the library are reading above the expected level for their age. For non-library users, this figure is just 35.5 per cent.