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Speak Up for Libraries conference this week

Speak up for libraries logoAround the country, the battle to save local libraries from cuts and closure has been hard-fought. In some cases, local people have even taken councils to court to keep their libraries open and to keep paid, professional staff in place.

The justification made by councils for library cuts is often problematic. As the Surrey Library Action Movement says:

"The reason given by many councils for the closure of public libraries is declining visitor numbers and book issues statistics demonstrating that the libraries are not cost-effective and should be closed. What they often fail to take into account, or mention, is that the decline is a direct result of budget cuts that have starved the libraries of up to date stock, ensured that lack of investment has meant that library buildings have become jaded and unappealing places to be and in some cases led to reduced opening hours."

In March this year, the Speak Up For Libraries coalition held a rally and lobby of Parliament to focus attention on the severe cuts facing public libraries in the UK and to emphasise the continuing importance and need for public library services.

Many services remain under threat.

As a followup to the March event, the coalition (an alliance of organisations and campaigners working to protect libraries and library staff, now and in the future) will hold a conference in central London this week, on Satruday 10 November 2012.

The day-long event, which will also be joined by authors Philip Ardagh and Bali Rai, will pull together library campaigners and supporters from across the UK and give them the opportunity to build on their existing campaigning skills and tactics, share ideas and strategies, and focus on a way forward to make their local campaign as effective as possible, with the goal of ensuring library services are supported and protected, now and in the future.

As well as providing an update on the state of the UK library service and the extensive work undertaken by campaigners across the UK to protect libraries in the past 12 months, there will be a range of workshop sessions on a variety of topics like law and legal challenges, volunteers, issues like privatisation and outsourcing, influencing decisionmakers, and utilising local support in a community to protect services under threat.

After the success of the aprliamentary lobby day in March, there’s a tremendous groundswell of support for our local libraries. Through this conference, organisers hope to inspire even more people to Speak Up For Libraries to safeguard them for generations to come.

The full programme and details can be found on the Speak Up For Libraries website.

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