Residents in Lambeth, London, protest against library closures. Photograph: David Rowe/Demotix/Corbis
As Alison Flood reports in her recent article in The Guardian, “Shaking off their traditional reputation as lovers of peace and quiet, librarians are preparing to take a loud battle for Britain’s libraries to the door of the culture secretary.”
She reports that the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (Cilip) is challenging the government over its “failure to carry out their legal duty to the public” and keep branches open using the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act (stating that the public has a statutory right to a quality public library service.)
“We’ve had enough. We’ve marked our line in the sand here. The government is behaving as if it doesn’t have a duty of care and they do, under the law. We think it’s time to be clear about what that means,” said Nick Poole, the chief executive of Cilip. More than 100 library branches were shut last year, and further branches up and down the UK face closure.
Voices for the Library reports that Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, plans to restrict prisoners’ access to books and prison library services as part of changes to the punishment and reward system.
Access to books and reading extends opportunities for social participation, encourages reflection and helps develop a sense of social responsibility. It expands our ability to think about alternatives and evaluate our options, which for some may lead to strategies for avoiding criminal behaviour.
“Prisoners see themselves differently; they gain confidence and self-esteem. They talk about having hope for the future, often for the first time. They feel able to envisage a different future and develop new aspirations for themselves.” (Prisoners Education Trust 2008, p.2)
The Travels of Marco Polo
Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes
A Hymn to the Pillory, Daniel Defoe
De Profundis, Oscar Wilde
Our Lady of Flowers, Jean Genet
Justine, Marquis de Sade
Thomas Malory, Richard Lovelace, Walter Rayleigh, Chidiock Tichborne, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jack London, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela…(Oh and Mein Kampf by a certain Adolf somebody or other, but that doesn’t really serve my point so…)
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Dear Archibald Lib and Ignatius Rary,
Thank you for taking the time to find me an appropriate alibi in recent weeks*. I sincerely appreciate the time you spent reviewing my predicament with me and recommending strategies for reaching a satisfactory outcome. Your advice was of great assistance and gave me a new perspective on available opportunities.
I especially appreciate your offer to connect myself with others working in your network. I plan on following up the contacts you furnished me with right away. I also hope to use the networking resources you recommended to avoid future complications.
Any additional suggestions you may have would be welcome. I’ll update you as to my progress.
Again, thank you so much for your help. I greatly appreciate the assistance you have provided me.
I am very much in your debt.
Rt Honorable XXXXXX XXXXX MP
Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland*
* The date and the name of the correspondent have been withheld for reasons of privacy, but should be noted that they do not refer to the present incumbent of this post or indeed to any recent events.