Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Letter to Ed Vaizey, Culture Minister, mailed today

Dear Ed Vaizey,

I write to you with great concern regarding the future of hundreds of the UK's public  libraries. I feel it would be detrimental to communities, and society at large, to impose cuts on libraries; cuts that would see hundreds of branches - including those placed in cut-off areas, deprived areas, or areas that serve the vulnerable - closed permanently; cuts that would see innumerable jobs lost; cuts that would see library hours and budgets slashed; cuts that see staff forced into early retirement or voluntary redundancy under new structures where the word 'library' or'librarian' is no longer in the title, as well as formal training opportunities axed.

I do not want to live in a society where access to libraries is limited. Libraries are places where children first experience books, being read to, reading, and learning for themselves; places where teenagers can develop a sense of self and how they relate to the world; places where the vulnerable or poor can embrace opportunities and feel equal in this world; places where the elderly might ge their sole source of comforting human contact, sense of well-being and community.

It took me four years to get my first library post - the amount of happiness; personal well-being I receive from the job is inestimable. Prior to working in this sector, I was broken in self-esteem and in a state of depression. When I help others, it helps me. To think that unpaid volunteers rather than paid, professional, passionate people could soon be running libraries is an affront to everything people like me have worked towards. The work is physically demanding and the pay is more often than not little above minimum wage; the funds and priority that libraies receive are also low, so it is inconceivable that such drastic and irrecoverable changes are being set out the country over.

I am sorely disappointed, and dismayed, that National Lottery funds no longer contribute towards the running of any library services. Moreover, I find it unpalatable that the government see fit to continue plunging funds into the Olympics when causes - permanent causes - such as libraries are so much more vital to the cerebral integrity of the nation.

I urge you to action proposals to support and preserve, not destroy, our libraries.

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