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From The Socialist newspaper, 9 February 2011

Ditch the library cuts

Waltham Forest protest against library closures in 2008, photo Bob Severn

Waltham Forest protest against library closures in 2008, photo Bob Severn   (Click to enlarge)

OVER 80 protests took place around the country as part of a national day of action to defend the 450 libraries earmarked for closure.

Nancy Taaffe, Library trade union convenor, Waltham Forest, north east London

The action varied from genteel affairs like public readings to mass 'shh-ins' where protesters joined in a chorus of "shh" on the stroke of 11am. Around the country library shelves were emptied of books as mass borrowing was encouraged to drive home the message of just how popular our libraries are.

The libraries day of action attracted national press coverage and many well-known personalities signed up to support it. Celebrities such as Kirsty Young, Billy Bragg, and Anna Ford, along with well-known authors such as Philip Pullman, Julia Donaldson and Alan Gibbons gave public readings and held meetings to protest at planned closures.

However, apart from the glitz and glamour that is associated with these protests, there is widespread support amongst workers for libraries. There are more public libraries in working-class communities than there are branches of McDonald's and on any Saturday more people will visit a public library than go to a football match.

Even if people don't use them much, they expect them to be there. Libraries, despite their shabbiness or inadequacies, represent possibilities to learn and for intellectual advancement for people who can't afford books.

When I asked my local councillor whether the library I work in was earmarked for closure he replied: "I'll die in a ditch before they close this place, there's nothing that fills my surgery up with angry people more than a library closure."

In the emerging anti-cuts movements it is often the library campaigns that are the more vocal and active, acting as a catalyst to other campaigns.

We must support all of these national coordinated events which attract big names and tonnes of publicity but we must also raise the necessity of library workers taking industrial action to beat off library closures and communities occupying sites and buildings that the council tries to sell off to property developers.

As I said to my local councillor: "You don't have to die in a ditch, you just have to vote against the cuts"!

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In The Socialist 9 February 2011:


International socialist news and analysis

Egypt in revolt


Socialist Party NHS campaign

Defend the NHS!: Fight the Con-Dem cuts

The madness of King George cuts


Anti-cuts campaigning

Scottish Anti-Cuts Alliance established

Stop attacks on disabled claimants

Liverpool: Jobs axe must be fought

No to the racist EDL! Unite to fight the cuts

Hands off our forests!

Protesting against all of the cuts


Socialist Party news and analysis

Tommy Sheridan jailing: Political vendetta ends in draconian sentence

John Macreadie memorial

TV Review: Posh and Posher Why Public School Boys Run Britain


Socialist Party feature

'Struggle or starve!' 1932 - when Birkenhead workers beat the means test


Socialist Party youth and students

Young people march for a future

Tories have no solutions to youth crime

Police attack 'save EMA' protest in Leeds


Socialist Party workplace news

Justice for Unison Four

Unison self-destructs at TSA but unionism stronger than ever

Building action against cuts

Defending jobs at Leeds council

Ford challenged in legal bid: Pay the Visteon pensioners now!

Arriva Trains Wales - strike called off

Defend democracy in the CWU

Keep the post public demo

Discussing an electoral challenge to service cutters


Socialist Party Marxist analysis

'In reality, Britain is facing a savage economic ice age'


 

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