Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has pledged his ‘100% support’ to a national libraries demonstration aiming to highlight the “clear and present danger” to Britain’s public library service.
The demonstration, backed by UNISON, PCS, and Unite, and the Campaign for the Book, will take place on 5 November and see campaigners come together to protest the crisis in the library service. The march will start from the British Library and end outside the House of Commons for a rally.
“Libraries, museums and galleries are public assets which help to celebrate and promote the rich cultural diversity of our communities,” Corbyn said.
“I give my 100% support to this demonstration. The Tories have devastated our public services using austerity policies as justification. I promise that a Labour Government will act to ‘in-source’ our public and local council services and increase access to leisure, arts and sports across the country. We will reverse the damage the Tories have done to our communities in the cities, towns and villages.”
Public libraries and museums offer access to learning, reading, history, art, information and enjoyment. Libraries are, or should be, trusted public spaces for everyone. They play a crucial role in improving literacy, in combating the digital divide and in widening democratic involvement.
But in the UK since 2010, we’ve lost:
- 8,000 paid and trained library workers;
- 343 libraries (600-plus including ones handed to volunteers); and
- One in five regional museums at least partially closed.
We’ve also seen:
- Libraries’ and museums’ opening hours cut;
- Budgets, education programmes and mobile/ housebound/specialist services slashed;
- An escalation in commercialisation and privatisation;
- A 93% increase in the use of volunteers in libraries;
- Income generation become the priority for almost 80% of museums.
In West Sussex we have not seen significant negative effects on our local library service, but we recognise the impact taking place elsewhere in the country and encourage members to attend this important event.
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