Authors speak out for libraries
We have been, and continued to be, very concerned about the cuts to libraries that are being proposed and taking place. You can read the various media statements we have been issuing in response to key industry developments in our press release section.
National day of action
Media support for libraries
Media support for libraries has been building in recent weeks. Here's some of the main articles that have caught our attention and those that we have contributed to.
The Guardian - Market fanatics will kill what makes our libraries precious
The Independent on Sunday - Libraries: 'Hands off our doors to learning' authors and library users share their views
The Guardian Reading Agency defends libraries' impact on literacy
The Guardian Writers protest at 'vandalism' to library services
The Guardian Twitter support for libraries snowballs worldwide
The Bookseller Trade rallies to 'Fight for Libraries' campaign
The library service in tough times
We held a roundtable in October to gather together some of the thinking about how libraries could tackle the tough times they are facing. Our report summarises the main points made by our contributors who included key thinkers, writers and influencers from the reading, library and literacy worlds.
We have produced a briefing for authors and are appealing to all authors to support libraries by sending their quotes about libraries to their publicist or editor. We will be publishing these quotes on this section of the website.
Author's support for libraries
Here is No. 1 bestselling author and TV star Paul O'Grady to get the ball rolling.
"My mother introduced me to the Library. She read at least two books a week, preferably historical novels, and so trips to the Birkenhead Central Library were frequent. My Dad had taught me to read at an early age and so I progressed from Pippi Longstocking and Mary Norton's timeless 'The Borrowers' series (my favourite books of all time, even today) to Greek Mythology and Edgar Wallace. I spent hours revising for GCEs in the sanctuary of the reference library and realise now just how important a role The Birkenhead Central Library played in my formative years. Libraries play a vital role in the community - long may they thrive." Paul O'Grady, MBE
Award winning children's author Bali Rai stresses the importance of libraries.
"For me libraries are invaluable. Without them I would not be an author. There were no books in my house when I was growing up. There was no sense that literature belonged to me or people like me. It was my local library that broke down these barriers. It introduced me to a whole new world, and helped me to gain a successful education. It also seeded my love of reading and gave me my dream - to be an author. There are some things in life that CANNOT ever be quantified. They cannot be judged according to some cost/benefit analysis. They are simply too precious, too important, too valuable. Without libraries this world would be a much poorer place. Libraries vibrate with life and learning and I love them." Bali Rai
Marcle Theroux says "Thankfully, the country's public libraries have more illustrious defenders than me, but I want to add my voice to the calls to keep them open."
"So many London libraries that I loved have already closed. The Alvering Library on Allfarthing Lane, Wandsworth, where I borrowed books as a child which continue to inspire me, shut its doors two years ago. The beautiful West Hill Library which had a special history reference section that I used for O and A levels closed in 2007. The Westminster Library on Great Smith Street - a sanctuary for me as a lonely boarder at a new school - is now a high-end restaurant.
"It's terrible to contemplate growing up in a country that's been stripped of these places. Not only are they a good in themselves - like trees or clean air or silence - they also have the power to transform individual lives. If I were a child in Wandsworth now - a place that's richer in almost every conceivable way than it was in the 1970s - I believe my childhood would be impoverished. No house, no bookshop, no computer can match the experience of being in a library. We live in a noisy world: libraries are silent. We live in a place that's pathologically fixated on the present: libraries are conduit to the past. The conversation around us tends towards the homogeneous preoccupations of money and celebrity: in a library I can learn HTML, discuss burial customs with Sir Thomas Browne, meet Primo Levi, speak Tamil.
"Finally, I doubt it even makes real economic sense to close them. Unfortunately, we know exactly what they cost, while their true value remains beyond measure. We'll never be able to put a price on everything that would be lost through their closure: the poet who never was, the entrepreneur who missed her calling, the gifted working- class
novelist who wasn't inspired to write- the many lives that won't get touched by books, by the solace and pleasure and possibilities they bring." Marcel Theroux
"Google can bring back a hundred thousand answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one." Neil Gaiman
"We talk about the threatened library closures a lot in our home, as a heavy library user and someone who firmly believes that my career stemmed from the fact I had access to free books as a child, I feel passionate that as many children as possible continue to have the same privilege. I realised just how much we talked about the threat when at breakfast today my ten-year-old son piped up: "I know we are in debt but they don't want to close the libraries, people will grow up stupid and depressed." They do say: "out of the mouths of babes come great truths" and really, I'm not sure I could have phrased it better myself. I accept that cuts have to be made and tough decisions must be faced. I think it's of paramount importance for local councils to safeguard the vulnerable; children and pensioners, and I ask those councils to consider that a library provides a social network, an important focus for a community, an education, a safe haven, stimulation and peace for children and pensioners and everyone in-between." Adele Parks
"I grew up in Hackney in the 1970s and I can still recall the exact layout of my local library. It gave me such a reading habit that during my primary school years my teachers kept telling me off for reading above my level. More importantly it gave me a love of words that has never dimmed, and the knowledge that if you have books you have constant access to a world far away from your own. Key to instilling in children a love of learning is the love of stories. Libraries offer that to even the youngest children, as well as a safe place in which to sit and study. I urge the government to think again about this invaluable resource. Not all social benefits can be obviously quantified." Jojo Moyes
"A society that doesn't treasure books and resources for learning doesn't deserve to be described as civilised. Libraries have been, are and should continue to be the hub of every community, a meeting place, a melting pot of creativity." Hardeep Singh Kohli
"My father is illiterate. And my mother doesn't speak English. The fact that I ended up a writer is down to the fact that I had a library close to where I lived. Indeed, when we were kids, once a month, at Mum's insistence, Dad would walk us two miles to the local library, and, as my sister Bindi flicked through Gobbolino the Witch's Cat for the eighty-seventh time, as my brother Rajah hunched over books about cowboys and horses, and as my sister Puli flicked precociously through the adult fiction section (and regressively through the Enid Blyton books she thought were actually written by 'Grid Blyton' until a teacher pointed out that she'd misread the signature on the front), I immersed myself in Wodehouse and Jennings and Dahl. Very simply, those books opened my eyes to literature and changed my life." Times journalist Sathnam Sanghera
"Libraries are where, amongst other people, the young and ambitious go to better themselves. They also represent unique public spaces and once they are gone, to be replaced by another coffee shop or clothes store on the high street, those buildings will be lost to the next generation forever." Shiv Malik, co-author of Jilted Generation and freelance journalist
"The campaigns to save Britain's libraries have been nothing short of inspiring so far. Anyone who has read about the brilliant Milton Keynes campaign cannot help but be inspired. And, actually, my first national scoop emerged after I got involved with a local campaign in Yorkshire - where I'm from - to save the local library. It doesn't matter what your politics are - local libraries are the mark of civilized society." Ed Howker, co-author of Jilted Generation and journalist at the Spectator
"I am delighted to be invited to be Patron of one of my favourite events, the Scarborough Literature Festival. It was especially pleasing to me to be asked, because this festival has its home in the library, and reflects the love of books and passion for reading at the heart of the community. In these difficult times facing libraries across the country, it is heartening to be part of a celebration of literature which brings stories to life." Kate Atkinson
"They [libraries] are much valued and hugely valuable - not just for those wanting books but by a whole range of others who use them for internet access, as research resources, self-education, local information, other media such as DVDs and CDs, or simply as meeting places. I am appalled at what could happen, we must not allow it." Robert Radcliffe
"As a child one of my favourite occupations was going to the library. So many different books to choose from and stories to read. I'm sure it was one of the main reasons I became a writer. I took my own children and it proved invaluable for reading new authors and studying for school projects and exams. Now I take my two little grandsons who enjoy the story reading times and choosing their own books, being able to take books out of the shelves and examine them in a relaxed way that can't be done in a book shop.
I use libraries for research as well as reading novels and auto biographies.
I still love browsing, finding all sorts of fascinating books that I'd never find in a book shop as they must change their stock for up to date books so often.
Every government wants to improve literacy levels so surely closing libraries is utter madness." Mary de Laszlo
"I am very disturbed and saddened to hear about the proposed cuts to libraries and for more than one reason. Libraries are the hub of most communities, especially in this grave economic climate when many working class families may not be able to provide their children with books. As a child the library was my favourite place and I truly believe that having free access to books opened up a whole new world for me. I also believe that it led to me fulfilling my dream of becoming an author. Of course we all understand that the country is in trouble and there needs to be cuts - but please not to the libraries!" Rosie Goodwin
"Libraries are the center of communities. They also provide access to books and other media and events and access to the expertise of librarians, but I think it's important to remember that if you close down a library, you've ripped the heart out of a community." David Vann
To send more quotations from authors in support of libraries please email author support