Everyone loves libraries – and we can show that love on Saturday.
Our local library was an integral part of our childhood, and for many of us, they remain a valuable resource – for enjoyment, continued education, for help in our daily lives.
National Libraries Day on Saturday 7 February is the first day of a week-long celebration, during which libraries up and down the country will be hosting events to celebrate their work and their readers, young and old.
Libraries are more than a place to read books. They are meeting places, community spaces, a place where elderly, disabled and unemployed people can access computers and search for work.
Despite all this, the future of libraries is at risk.
“Libraries and library staff have had their backs against the wall throughout the years of the coalition government, suffering relentless attacks from those who fail to understand their fundamental place in our communities – or who just don’t care,” says UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis
“That’s why National Libraries Day is so important. Everyone has a chance to express their love of libraries and to stand behind library staff. And we’re urging our members to do exactly that.”
Planned events include readings by local authors, an introduction to self-publishing, children’s quizzes and – marking one of the most famous book phenomena of recent years – a number of Harry Potter themed events.
The serious side of the day is reflected in Cardiff, where a mass read-in is being organised to protect library services across the city.
Cardiff’s central library, voted one of the top six libraries in the world, is now going through a second year of budget cuts.
At the same time, up to seven community libraries will stop receiving any council funding at all, as part of plans to ‘hand buildings over to the community’ by making trained staff redundant and replacing them with volunteers.
If community groups cannot be found to take over the libraries, they will close completely.
Cardiff library lovers are being urged to bring along their favourite book for the show of solidarity.
Nationally, UNISON is calling on all its members to join in their local events, or to stage their own.
The union has been fighting for years to defend libraries, along with other local campaigners, convincing politicians of their value. The union believes that its members in public libraries, as well as those in education, medical and specialised libraries deserve everyone’s support.