Open letter to the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP from Australian Library workers

Below is a letter to the Secretary of State responsible for public libraries in the UK. Over the last year 1000 librarian positions  have disappeared, and there is an expectation that there are to be 6000 more job losses. Hundreds of libraries are also closing or due to close, and where they remain open they will have restricted hours and be run by volunteers.

If you wish to express your solidarity with our colleagues struggling to maintain a decent library service in the UK, please add your name (or comments) to this letter in the comments area.

Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP
Secretary of State
Department of Culture Media & Sport
2-4 Cockspur Street
London SW1Y 5DH

Dear Secretary of State

We the undersigned Australian librarians, library workers and supporters write to protest the current and planned mass closures of public libraries across the United Kingdom and to request that you use your powers under the 1964 Public Libraries & Museums Act to “secure the proper discharge by local authorities of the functions in relation to libraries conferred on them as library authorities by or under this Act”

Free public libraries as we know them began in the UK with the Public Libraries Act of 1850. Since that time British public libraries have been a model to be copied overseas and fundamental to the success and development of British society.

It is imperative now with the current recession that British libraries  continue to exist to provide information services to help rebuild the economy, help people to learn new skills and to provide information and support for the unemployed.

The sacking of thousands of library staff and the closure of hundreds of public libraries cannot be justified at this time of real need and must not be allowed to continue. For without libraries Britain cannot continue to claim to be a truly civilised or developed nation.

Edgar Crook

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13 thoughts on “Open letter to the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP from Australian Library workers

  1. Closing libraries – how is that a solution? Surely now is the time when more people need to lean on the amazing services that libraries offer – affordably to their communities, I might add – more heavily than ever.

    Perhaps the good Secretary of State’s attention should also be drawn to this blog which is full of people voicing their support for UK libraries: http://www.voicesforthelibrary.org.uk/wordpress/

    Lisa Mackie
    National Library of Australia

  2. That these disconnected millionaire politicians politicians can sit back and allow ideologically-driven Councils to close libraries and devastate our precious and vital library service is a lasting disgrace, and it is a slap in the face for whole communities who will be deprived of their public library.

  3. This is appalling, short-sighted and counter-productive. A simple-minded soiution to a complex problem typical of the economic rationalist mindset.

  4. Susanne Newton
    Online Services Librarian, Boroondara Libraries
    Sessional tutor in postgraduate information management, RMIT University

  5. Pingback: Interesting Things of the Week #88 « Lore Librarian

  6. Pingback: Solidarity from Australia

  7. Colleagues,
    Thank you so much for writing this terrific letter to the British DCMS. We are under the cosh here as the ConDem government takes a hatchet to our public services. The UK continues to slip down the international rankings, from 7th to 25th in Reading, so what do the ‘Culture’ ministers do? They close libraries. Between 800 and 1,000 may go along with, as you say, thousands of dedicated staff. Over a thousand authors, film makers, journalists, publishers, teachers, librarians and general readers have written to the DCMS expressing similar views to yours.
    We will not go gentle into that good night.
    Yours in solidarity,
    Alan Gibbons
    Author
    Organiser, the Campaign for the Book
    http://www.alangibbons.net

  8. Libraries must be supported for their spiritual, social and economic benefits to the whole community. If they are not supported, then the “plot” is well & truly lost.

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