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From The Socialist newspaper, 20 November 2019

Keep the National Poetry Library free

National Poetry Library management wants to introduce paid two-tier membership

National Poetry Library management wants to introduce paid two-tier membership   (Click to enlarge)

Niall Mulholland, East London Socialist Party

A fight is on to keep the National Poetry Library free to join and use by the public. The library at the Southbank Centre, London contains the largest public collection of modern poetry in the world.

A few weeks ago, senior management announced it was planning to introduce a fee of over 30 a year for all new members, with "enhanced" library use compared to current members.

This resulted in a storm of protest on social media from many of the 9,000 library members, and over 2,000 people signed an online petition.

Management hastily retreated and instead invited members to attend workshops to 'consult' about ways to ensure the future of the institution.

At the workshop I attended on 11 November, the 'options' included another form of paid membership, seeking corporate sponsorship or asking the better-off to make donations.

As someone who became a member 20 years ago while living in a nearby housing association flat, regularly bringing my two young children to the library, I strongly opposed management's creeping privatisation plans.

Arts Council cuts have, in all likelihood, caused funding shortfalls at the library. But managers indicated the way to resolve problems was by introducing the sort of commercialisation seen elsewhere at the Southbank Centre, where many facilities are contracted out to private business.

Any paid or two-tier memberships will be a barrier to many working-class people joining the library, and only add to any existing perceptions of elitism.

Stopping commercialisation, and fighting for adequate public funding, alongside safeguarding library workers' terms and conditions, is the only acceptable option.

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In The Socialist 20 November 2019:


What we think

High Court injunction: solidarity to the CWU

CWU - ground laid for an almighty struggle


Climate change

Major funding for flood risk management needed


NHS

Save the NHS: kick out the Tories

Frimley NHS Trust: Strikers remain determined to defeat privatisation


Violence against women

What policies are needed to end domestic violence and abuse?


Socialist Party news and analysis

Broadband: privatisation has failed to deliver, time for a socialist plan

Bolton university fire: government inaction puts safety at risk

Wages flatline, while shareholders profit


Workplace news and analysis

UCU pay and pension strike: university staff have had enough

West Midlands Trains: guards strike to defend safety-critical role

PCS union: elect Marion Lloyd!

Cleaners strike over low pay at Haringey secondary school

Bradford library and museum strikers enter third round of strike action

Long hours in the world of security

NEU members' sixth-form walkouts


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Secret police infiltration of workers' movement exposed

150 protest against Leicester hospital downgrading attack

Carmarthenshire union demands no-cuts budget

Swansea: students protest against Hillary Clinton hypocrisy

Keep the National Poetry Library free

Selling the Socialist


Readers' opinion

The Socialist Inbox


International socialist news and analysis

Amazon bosses defeated in Seattle - Kshama Sawant reelected

Chile revolt continues: read eyewitness report


 

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