Mark Haddon, Philip Pullman and Mary Hoffman are among the Oxfordshire authors who will be taking part in the "Read-in" events organised by Oxfordshire Anti-Cuts Alliance and local library groups, as part of a national day of action against library cuts on Saturday 5th February. The day of action has been called by Alan Gibbons, author and co-ordinator of the Campaign for the Book. There will be a focus on areas where library cuts are particularly severe, including Doncaster, Leeds, Lewisham, Brent, Cornwall, Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire.
Mr Gibbons said "The withdrawal of funding from at least 400 libraries across the country, with particularly swingeing cuts in areas like Oxfordshire, is an assault on the cultural and educational fabric of this country. Such large-scale and disproportionate closures and cuts fly in the face of the 1964 Libraries Act's requirement of a 'comprehensive and efficient' and improving service. When I put out the call for a celebration of libraries on February 5th I was hoping for maybe a dozen in the worst affected areas. The response has been astonishing. In just a few weeks communities across the country have roused themselves and rallied against this attack on cultural and social cohesion. There will now be some fifty events and maybe more. They will be celebrations of libraries and the contribution they make and an appeal to the government and councils to rethink their slash and burn approach. If a library closes it is rarely reopened. You don't know what you've got till it's gone."
The Oxfordshire Anti-Cuts Alliance are inviting the wider public to help make the Read-ins mass celebrations of Oxfordshire’s libraries. The Read-ins will include speeches and poetry from authors, trade unionists, librarians, councillors and readers.
Mark Haddon, author of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” said “Libraries are the NHS for the mind, one of the very few places where we are all equal, a place here we can all read and learn and get involved in our community institutions of which we should be hugely proud, and they are being destroyed to save a banker’s bonus”.
Julie Simmons secretary of Oxfordshire Anti-Cuts Alliance said, "Our 300 strong public meeting last week showed the strength of feeling to defend our libraries and public services. The speech Philip Pullman gave at the meeting was posted on the internet and had over 20,000 hits in just two days. We are confident the involvement of prestigious authors in the Alliance's library Read-ins will boost public support for the events on the day. The Read-in's will help support the majority view of our meeting that everyone should be active in opposing all the cuts and help to build our next Oxford demonstration on 12th Feb and the national TUC demonstration on 26th March."