Sunday, 5 December 2010


I know this blog is about how to get published but if there are fewer libraries and librarians there will be fewer readers for your books when they are published. Therefore, campaigning for libraries is what I will continue to do. I blogged the other day about my anger. Now, I am copying below the Open Letter to Members of Parliament, Jeremy Hunt  and Ed Vaizey, Ministers at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. This letter was organised by Alan Gibbons, author and founder of the Campaign for the Book. The letter is signed by hundreds of authors and authors and Alan has only been able to include a proportion of the names. He has given me permission to broadcast it here, too.

Please do what you can to spread this message as widely as possible.

Open letter to Jeremy Hunt MP and Ed Vaizey MP, Ministers at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport

Dear Jeremy Hunt and Ed Vaizey,

Library users and staff across the country are increasingly concerned at the implications of the Comprehensive Spending Review. Over 250 library closures have been announced. Some, for example those in Oxfordshire and Lewisham, are in areas involved in the pilot of the Future Libraries Programme which promised: “A strong library service, based around the needs of local people, can play a key role in our ambitions to build the Big Society by providing safe and inclusive spaces for people to read, learn and access a range of community services.”

When the then Secretary of State Andy Burnham hesitated over halting Wirral’s attempted closure of half its libraries just over a year ago, Ed Vaizey said: "If Andy Burnham is not prepared to intervene when library provision is slashed in a local authority such as the Wirral, it is clear that he is ignoring his responsibilities as secretary of state.” Andy Burnham did, of course, change his mind under pressure after several months.

Now cuts approaching the scale of those in the Wirral are being repeated across the country, not only in Oxfordshire and Lewisham, but in Buckinghamshire, Nottinghamshire, Leeds, Brent, Gloucestershire and many, many more. Ed Vaizey has written to councils reminding them of their duty under the 1964 Libraries and Museums Act to provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ service.

It is becoming commonplace for councils to close up to half their library branch networks. It would be inconsistent if the DCMS did not superintend councils acting as unjustifiably as Wirral, preventing the slashing of services.

We call on the DCMS not to ignore its responsibilities. We ask you to act in the spirit of the 1964 Act and prevent councils inflicting cuts which amount to cultural vandalism.

Yours sincerely,

Alan Gibbons

Organiser, the Campaign for the Book

The following authors, illustrators, poets, publishers, librarians, teachers, journalists, agents, screenwriters, translators, film producers and general readers have signed the petition:
Philip Pullman
Kate Mosse
Michael Holroyd
Peter Dickinson OBE
Barry Cryer, comedian and writer
Robin McKinlay
Carol Ann Duffy
Bonnie Greer
Gillian Slovo
Maureen Freely
Kathy Lette “Closing our libraries will make us a nation of numbskulls – the Illiterati.” Kathy Lette.
Julia Donaldson
Frank Cottrell-Boyce
Michael Rosen
Barrie Cunningham OBE
Jackie Kay
Kwei Armah
Malorie Blackman
Beverley Naidoo
Darren Shan
Geraldine McCaughrean
Joan Bakewell
Terry Jones
Lisa Appignanesi, President English PEN
Susan Barry and Marlene Johnson, Hachette Children’s Books
Danuta Kean, Deputy Director, Creative Enterprise Centre, School of Arts, Brunel University
Mark Le Fanu, Society of Authors
Professor Stuart Hall
Simon Brett
Howard Schuman
Anne Chisholm, Chair, Royal Society of Literature
Tricia Adams, Director, School Library Association
Biddy Fisher, Cilip President
Hannah Plom, Hon Secretary, Cilip YLG
Rebecca Hemming, Chair, Cilip SLG
Duncan Wright, School Librarian of the Year, 2010
Moris Farhi MBE
Leonie Flynn
Ruth Goldsmith
Gillian Cross
Matt Whyman
Joanna Briscoe
Caroline Rance
Christine Athey
Melanie Worsfold
Anne Anderson
Mavis Cheek
Zoe Allinson
Dr Jessie Hey
Pie Corbett
Melvin Burgess
Kevin Crossley-Holland
Nicola Morgan
Tim Bowler
Adele Geras
Christine Blower, General Secretary, National Union of Teachers
Kevin Courtney, Deputy General Secretary, NUT
Robert Swindells
Brenda Swindells
Jamila Gavin
Tony Bradman
David Nicholls
James Carter
Celia Rees
Susan Shaper, Cilip’s SLG committee
Anne Cassidy
Nick Arnold
Meg Rosoff
Catherine Johnson
Chrissie Gittins
Philip Ardagh
Sridhar Gowda
Geraldin Rose.
Jeremy Strong
Korky Paul
Elizabeth Kay
Tommy Donbavand
Sue Eves
Penny Dolan
Sally Nicholls
Linda Newbery
M G Harris
David Bedford
Rhiannon Lassiter
Bali Rai
Gwen Grant
Kathryn Evans
Julie Wilkie
Emma Slack
Jane Ray
Chris Priestley
Anne Rooney
Lindsey Fraser
Celia Rees
Anna Perera
Sally Prue
Lynn Breeze
Bernard Ashley
Steve Weatherill
Helena Pielichaty
Julia Jarman
Berlie Doherty
Andrew Fusek Peters
Steve Skidmore
David Belbin
Saviour Pirotta
John Foster
Prue Goodwin
Kay Green, Earlyworks Press
Mary Hoffman
Alec Williams
Peter Cox, Litopia
Sue Barrow
Ian Bland
Vanessa Harbour, Editor, Write4Children
Sally Kincaid, Divisional Secretary, Wakefield and District NUT
John Illingworth, former president NUT
Barry Conway, Secretary, Bolton NUT
Ian Harris, Secretary Wirral NUT
Mick Wattam, Doncaster UCATT treasurer
Jim Board, Secretary, Doncaster Unison
Ian Leaver, Secretary NUT Leicester
Jenny Day, President NUT Leicester
Peter Flack, Assistant Secretary NUT Leicester
Andy Reeve, Secretary Leicestershire NUT
Bernard Harper, President, Leicester and District Trades Council
Caroline Horn, Director, Reading Zone
Nikki Gamble, Write Away
Michael Thorn, ACHUKA
Jane Hunt
Lynn Huggins-Cooper
Tony Mitton


Dana Elmendorf said...

Thank you for campaigning for our libraries.

Kittie Howard said...

Even though I'm in the States, I share your anger about libraries closing as we've been experiencing problems here as well. Not as comprehensive as yours, but I'm always fearful about that crack in the door becoming an open door.

Good luck to you and your campaign. It's truly a noble cause.

JO said...

Thanks for banging on about this - we just can't let our libraries disappear. I've signed the letter. Next stop - councillors and our MP - wish me luck!

Nicole said...

Good luck!! It is a sad day when we have to campaign for our libraries, weren't they informed that the dark ages are over!?!

BirthRight The Arrival on Amazon 1.1.2011

Guinevere said...

I'm an American, but we have the same issues in our country now. Best of luck in your fight. I believe that an educated populace is essential to a healthy country and it angers me to no end that libraries are one of the first things targeted when they are so important.

maureen said...

Best of Luck in getting the change needed. How very shortsighted to target libraries...
Cheering you on in New Zealand!

catdownunder said...

Nicola, this is good - indeed excellent but may I make a suggestion? All these people also need to write individual letters. Open letters are fine. They tell the public that people who know and understand the problem are interested in it and that it is therefore important. Politicians take almost no notice of this sort of thing. They will take notice of many, many personal letters landing on their secretary's desk - because that means votes.
I am blogging about that today.

Nicola Morgan said...

Cat - we know and that's just what we're all doing! We've been doing it for a while and are encouraging everyone to do the same. This Campaign for the Book is a major thing & hugely supported.

Anonymous said...

May I suggest everyone reads Cat's blog today and yesterday? It contains excellent and succinct advice about "How to be an activist".

catdownunder said...

Sorry Nicola - of course you are all far too intelligent not to realise it is also necessary to write individual letters. Everyone else I emphasise "individual". I'll tackle that issue tomorrow.
Thankyou Robin - not sure I know you but nice to have support.

Whirlochre said...

I understand scythes are in order but assumed the rule about women and children first wouldn't be applied in this case.

But no.