I had the honour of opening the Campaign for the Book Conference in Birmingham on Saturday. Some 200 delegates: public and school librarians, School Library Service staff, authors, publishers, library campaigners, academics, teachers, book bloggers and book lovers, assembled in King Edward’s School to hear inspirational speeches, evidence-based research and to join in through workshops and debate. The conference was a great success and we all came away inspired and elated.
Author, Alan Gibbons, started the Campaign a year ago now, as a personal response to the outrage he felt at how both the schools and public library services were being attacked and eroded. Sometimes one story, one incident, can act as a catalyst, pushing the individual over from concern to action. For Alan, it was the sacking of a young school librarian in Chesterfield, and the closing of her library, for no other reason than the school's desire to save money. She told her story at the Conference and received a standing ovation from delegates. Another catalyst was the news from the Wirral that the council were planning to axe over half their branch libraries, a number of them in some of the poorest, most deprived areas in the country. If this council succeeds, their lead will be followed by any council wanting to save money. It is something that should concern us all. To find out more about the Campaign for the Book and find out how you can help, go to http://www.alangibbons.net . It is up to all of us who value books and libraries to act now.
In the words of Joni Mitchell, 'Don't it always seem to go, you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.' So join the campaign, support your local library service, your school library, and your school library service, before it is too late.