Many of you have welcomed the call to make the first Saturday in February National Library Day. Encouraged by the response I want to put this on a formal footing.
I want the largest possible support for this initiative from individual library users and members of the public, authors, teachers, librarians and their professional bodies, councilors, MPs, publishers, trade unions, reading agencies and local campaign groups.
Why do we need this day? 522 libraries (462 buildings and 60 mobiles) are currently under threat of losing funding out of 4517 in the UK. School libraries and School Library Services face similar pressures. Libraries provide books and ICT access free of charge. They promote social cohesion. They raise literacy levels. They help children become successful adults. They help vulnerable people into work and education. They provide a meeting place and a community hub. Some elected representatives are unaware of the importance of the public library service and School Library Services. Some governing bodies underestimate the value of school libraries. This case needs to be made. A specific celebration of British libraries will raise their profile and help ensure their survival in very difficult times.
*can’t we just combine it with World Book Day or International Library Day? Our libraries are facing pressing challenges. We need a specific day to celebrate them. Of course we will be involved in these other events. Most of us already are!
*aren’t some libraries a bit tired and backward-looking? Of course some libraries are more successful than others. Some have better buildings and more books. Some have integrated ICT better. But we can’t develop the libraries of the future out of the libraries of today if they are already closed. We can’t bring the poorest up to the level of the best if they have become an empty building.
*why hold it in February when it is cold and icy? The call for National Library Day emerged from the Save Our Libraries Day on February 5th when 110 Read Ins generated huge media interest. The day will celebrate libraries at a time when local authorities are considering their budgetary decisions.
*isn’t it just another protest? Save Our Libraries Day was a postitive and peaceful celebration of libraries. National Libraries Day will have the same character.
I appeal for the widest possible support for this initiative. If you agree email me. If your organisation needs to put it to its decision-making body, give me an idea of the time-scale.
The Campaign for the Book
Media coverage of the call in The Bookseller:
Gibbons proposes National Libraries Day
24.02.11 | Benedicte Page
Author and library campaigner Alan Gibbons is proposing that the first day in February be made National Libraries Day every year, following Save Our Libraries day, the co-ordinated protest against library closures which saw 100 events taking place on 5th February.
Gibbons said he had received many emails in the weeks since the mass protest suggesting that there be “a chance to celebrate our libraries” each February.
The children’s writer, who runs Campaign for the Book, and has been a leading voice in the protest movement against widespread library closures, added he intended to win the backing of others including professional bodies, trades unions, authors, celebrities, reading organisations, literary societies, readers and campaign groups.
Gibbons asked those keen to support the idea of a National Library Day to contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org .