More protests against library closures

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Books. Pic by JMU Journalism

Pic by JMU Journalism

The ongoing dispute regarding Liverpool City Council’s proposed plans to close 11 libraries has stepped up a notch after more protests have been scheduled to take place this month.

Liverpool TUC and Liverpool Against the Cuts (LATC) have organised a rally outside Central Library in the city centre on November 8th, while another demonstration outside a Liverpool Town Hall council meeting four days later has also been planned.

These latest protests are coming off the back of an earlier rally that took place outside Central Library on October 4th, with around 200 people turning out to voice their anger towards the city council’s plans.

Breck Road, Dovecot, Fazakerley, Kensington, Lee Valley, Old Swan, Sefton Park, Spellow, Walton, Wavertree and West Derby libraries are all being earmarked for closure, with low visiting numbers and high running costs two reasons for their potential shutdown.

Sue Ferguson, of Liverpool Against the Cuts, told JMU Journalism: “The council don’t appear to be listening, hence the need for further demonstrations. They now have in their possession 15,000 signatures opposing the library closures.

“The October 4th rally went very well. We were all pleased with a lot of positive feedback. It was organised very quickly and we have had longer to organise for November 8th, so we are very positive.”

Alongside the organised protests, the ‘Love Letters to Liverpool Libraries’ campaign – which involves people of all ages writing to Mayor Joe Anderson against the proposed library closures – has also been set up to tackle the city council’s plans and has gathered 500 names so far.

One of the love letters campaign organisers, Liverpool’s award-winning children’s author Alan Gibbons, has backed plans for fresh protests and told JMU Journalism: “Mayor Anderson has stuck rigidly to his plans to close 11 city libraries. We are cranking up the pressure to remind him that he wasn’t elected to cut services, but to protect them.

“Even at this late stage, we believe there must be other ways to deal with this situation. When a library closes, it never reopens. We must do everything we can to avoid the ‘nuclear option’ of closure.”

The council is looking to save £2.5m by shutting down 11 of the city’s 19 libraries due to a 58% cut in funding by central government, which has sparked fury amongst many library-goers and campaigners.

Liverpool councillor Wendy Simon, assistant mayor and cabinet member for libraries, said last month that the city council is still talking to organisations and individuals with ideas for keeping the libraries open. She told the Guardian: “We’re doing what we can to save as many as we can. Our libraries are precious to us, too, but we only have a specific amount of money, and all of our services are important to us.

“It’s really difficult – we have looked at alternatives, and we are hopeful. We have had a number of proposals that we are pleased about for the 11 libraries that have been identified.”

About Matthew Judge, JMU Journalism