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My Library by Right – Campaign to Save Our Libraries

By January 16, 2016Libraries, Literature

It will come as no shock to those of us in the UK (and perhaps other countries) that our libraries face a very uncertain future. With the current government’s austerity measures decreeing that libraries are a luxury that local council’s can no longer afford to run they are closing down at an alarming rate.

All may not be lost though.

The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) has instigated a My Library by Right campaign which aims to hold the current government to account in regards to its legal responsibility to provide library services to the British public. Their mission statement is:

Campaign for your right to quality libraries 

The Government and Local Authorities have a legal responsibility to provide you with a quality library service that meets your needs.

By statute Local Authorities must provide ‘comprehensive and efficient’ library services and Government must oversee and improve libraries.

These rights are not widely understood and are being neglected in the face of economic pressures. This is putting important principles at risk, including the ability to access a quality library service wherever you live and at times to suit you.  

Public libraries in England provide a lifeline for millions of people every day. They help people get online, develop their literacy and skills, find employment and build stronger ties across their community. We must stand up and defend our statutory right to a quality library service.

What we are campaigning for

My Library By Right brings people together to campaign for:

  • The public’s rights to libraries to be recognised and respected
  • Public libraries to be treated as the statutory services they are
  • The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to carry out their legal duties under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act
  • Statutory guidance for local authorities on their duties under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act from DCMS, with support from CILIP and the library and information profession

The Literary Gift Company

Their campaign is also backed by law:

Under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act:

Local authorities have a statutory duty to provide ‘comprehensive and efficient’ library services.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has a legal duty for the stewardship and improvement of public libraries in England.

Although it appears there may be some wiggle room that local authorities are prepared to utilise in order to only provide the bare minimum that they are legally required to do.

The campaign has received a huge boost in recent weeks with support coming from a number of high profile authors, namely Ali Smith, Neil Gaiman and Joanna Trollope and the former poet laureate and chair of the museums, libraries and archives council, Sir Andrew Motion.

The petition to the secretary of state for culture, media and sport, John Whittingdale, calls on the government to act to protect people’s statutory right to a quality library service and has been signed by more than 7,000 people, including Labour Walsall South MP Valerie Vaz, who is currently protesting against cuts to libraries in Walsall.

Joanna Trollop stated that libraries

“cost so very little to run” and are “so crucial to the nation’s well being, and future.”


“The UK – ranked near the bottom in the OECD’s recent survey of literacy levels in the world’s most developed countries – is in absolutely no position to dare to close one single public library,”

Libraries across the country are at serious risk of closure over the next few years with Local Authorities already revealing plans for widespread cuts in the next financial period.

Recent figures from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accounting (CIPFA) revealed that a total of 106 libraries have closed in the UK between April 2014 and April 2015, while library funding has been cut by £50m.

Since David Cameron became prime minister in 2010, visits to libraries have fallen by 14% and library funding has been cut by more than £180m– a drop of 16%. Meanwhile overall library numbers have fallen by 549 in that time.

We cannot sit idly by while our libraries disappear forever; Fahrenheit 451 anyone? It is a slippery slope into illiteracy if the joy of reading is removed from vast swathes of the public with such little consideration for the long term implications.

To support this campaign CILIP ask that we all:

Tweet our support; I’m standing up for our right to libraries #MyLibraryByRight

Download and display the poster available on their website (here)

Become a member of CILIP; everyone is welcome.

Support National Libraries Day on February 6th.

And last but certainly not least;

Sign the petition.


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