Consultations on the closure of libraries aren’t restricted to Northern Ireland. But compared to the kind of low key public meetings with Libraries NI that will happen over coming months, users of one English library under threat came up with a much more imaginative response.
Milton Keynes Council proposed closing some libraries as part of its draft budget. But the Stony Stratford town council decided to fight back. The library has been open for over 50 years and until a few days ago held a stock of 16,000 volumes.
The idea was to empty the shelves by closing time on Saturday: in fact with 24 hours to go, the last sad bundle of self-help and practical mechanics books was stamped out. Robert Gifford, chair of Stony Stratford town council, planned to collect his books when he got home from work in London, but left it too late.
Robert Gifford – chair of the local council which meets in the library – explained to the Guardian:
“In theory the closure is only out for consultation but if we sit back it will be too late. One man stopped me in the street and said, ‘The library is the one place where you find five-year-olds and 90-year-olds together, and it's where young people learn to be proper citizens’. It's crazy even to consider closing it – they should be finding ways to expand its services and bring even more people in.”
Hopefully everyone will now bring their books back and allow the shelves of the library to be restocked!
Photo courtesy Emily Malleson / Friends of Stony Stratford Library.