Julia backs fight to keep libraries

Jo Swinson Julia Donaldson
Jo Swinson Julia Donaldson

CHILDREN’S Laureate Julia Donaldson was among a delegation who met Culture Minister Ed Vaizey to discuss the future of libraries.

The Bearsden author attended a parliamentary meeting organised by local MP Jo Swinson.

She put her concerns to the minister and focused on the importance of public libraries for children and the benefits of having well staffed libraries with a good stock of books in them as an essential part of providing a good library service.

The best-selling writer of books such as The Gruffalo was joined by Gary Green of Voices for the Library, Alan Gibbons of the Campaign for the Book and John Holland from Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries.

Concerns

After the four representatives had all made their point the minister responded to their concerns.

He said he did not agree that library services are being decimated and has challenged some closures in the past, but has also supported closing other libraries.

One of his main points was that it is up to local authorities to run library services, not his department.

But he did agree that the Government has no intention of removing statutory duties for councils to provide the service.

The use of volunteers in libraries was also discussed and, as Mr Gibbons highlighted, volunteers have always played a part in libraries, but there needs to be a clear balance and focus between the roles professional staff play and the roles volunteers take on, rather than an assumption that volunteers can provide a service as good as a trained professional.

The meeting ended with no firm commitment from the minister to review their policy on public libraries.

Ms Swinson said: “I was happy to be able to facilitate a meeting between Julia, the other campaigners and the Minister. Library cuts and closures can damage a community now and in the future.

“Open dialogue is necessary to ensure libraries serve all segments of our towns and that they are around for the next generation.”