It looks like close to a thousand people took part in the Library read-ins across Oxfordshire first initiated by the Oxfordshire Anti Cuts Alliance to help focus opposition to the planned closure of 20 out of 43 libraries. Below is a round-up of the events that took place.
Blackbird Leys Library
Brilliant Read-In at Blackbird leys Library, Oxford, on Saturday 5 Feb with local authors Jane Bingham (children’s non-fiction) and Mark Haddon (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time). Local councillors Richard Stevens and David Williams also spoke, as did local campaigner Paula Williams. 60+ people were present, including campaigners against Library closures and local Library users.
Nia (Age 6) was there with her Nanny (Val McKiernan) who has been a BBL resident for 50 years and a Library user for most of that time. She used to help Nia’s Mum choose her books and now comes every week to choose at least 10 books with her grand-daughter.
Joe Carter, who teaches adults in the Library every week said that he receives many informal referrals through the Library and if the class had to move that vital link would be broken.
We heard that pupils from the Mabel Pritchard School come to the Library once a week. For people such as those pupils, who have physical disabilities, there is no alternative to this Library.
QUOTES OF THE DAY FROM BLACKBIRD LEYS LIBRARY
“My children became good readers because of the Library.”
“My blood boils when I hear the phrase ‘big society’. It just means ‘small government’.”
“The Library is safe for everyone: young mums, the unemployed, children, the elderly. It’s a place where everyone is welcome and where people can meet their friends.”
“I got hooked on books when I was young through visiting the Library and I became a writer. It’s awful to think it might not be there for you.”
“I’m not well travelled but in my mind I’ve been all over the place because of reading.”
“Reading Library books is FREE! It’s too expensive to buy books and to take the bus to the Library in town.”
“Oxford is renowned for intellectual rigour and Libraries have played their part in that...My life has been changed by Libraries. I had a poor reading age until I discovered Libraries and became a reader.”
“A Library is a steeping-stone to your future.”
Barry Lovejoy - Oxfordshire Anti Cuts Alliance
North Leigh Library
I'm just back from the North Leigh library protest, which saw visitors of nearly 200, a 400% increase on its usual Saturday numbers (it's open for two hours). Many parents brought their children, some from the local school (which takes every class across the road to the library once a week so that every child can choose a book to read) and some from nearby villages. There were teens using the internet and older local residents browsing the non-fiction shelves. There were craft activities for the children and I read picture books to an appreciative group. This is a small library and our numbers may sound less impressive than others, but this library is well loved, and one of the teenagers wrote that as well as liking the internet access and the free books, "I am always happy to see Sarah the librarian." Barry Norton, David Cameron's election agent, attended in person and was happy to show his support. Local Conservative Councillor Louise Chapman, who was brought up in North Leigh and attended the primary school, also gave her support, saying she hoped that the library service would find a way to implement cuts without having to close branches.
By: children's author Jo Cotterill
There were 35 people at the Littlemore Library Read - in this morning. John Tanner, chaired, with other local county and parish councillors and the vicar, in the audience. Local authors, Sally Nichols and Nancy Lindisfarne, read selected passages to celebrate reading, imagination, and freedom from censorship. Local parents and children, the majority of the protestors, are in real shock at the proposed closure. the Library has 16,000 registered members, and also serves the new Oxford Academy as the schools only library facility. In two weeks the library will be moved into a brand new, purpose-build library building, and it is this new building which is threatened with closure.
2 likely quotes - Maria Leathern, East Oxford - 'I grew up in Castlemae, between the Gorbbels and the docks in Glasgow. It was a big housing estate, and schools was noisy and crowded. I used to dodge school to go to the library. For the peace, for the quiet, and because it was safe. I loved reading, autobiography, all sorts. And so does daughter. They've no right to take the libraries away from us.'
Finn Carter, aged 9, Littlemore, Oxford, a voracious reader who visits Littlemore library on his own every Saturday morning. 'What do I want to do when I grow up? Well, weekdays I want to programme video games. And then on the weekends, I want to write books'.
Nancy Lindisfarne author
We had celeb Kirsty Young, writers me, Linda Newbery, David Wiseman. Lots of users reading and Candida Lycett-Green, John Betjeman's daughter, dropped in to read one of her father's poems.
The library was draped in bunting made by primary school children and the building was bursting with people of all ages from little children, through teenagers, mums with babies and right up to venerable. Too many to count but the two stalwart librarians were inundated with users taking out their allocation of 20 books each, including me. At the end we all held hands and made an embracing circle round the library
Mary Hoffman author
Over 200 people turned up at the Charlbury Library read in. The library can hold about 20! We had to overflow into other areas of the building and the street. We had lots of readings including a specially composed poem by Patricia Huth Ellis (sister of Angela Huth).
An account can be found here
An account can be found here
A round up of the national campaign for the book cab be found on Alan Gibbons' (coordinator Campaign for the Book) blog