National Libraries Day to support equal learning

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The 6th February marks The National Libraries Day aiming to support learning across the nation and avoid further closures of public libraries.

The event is run by organisations including the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals (CILIP) and the Reading Agency alongside with literary supporters.

Commencing today, there are more than 400 events coming up over the course of the following week across the UK to celebrate the annual Libraries Day.

The movement began in 2012 when authors and campaigners raised awareness of the social inequality which limited libraries as a crucial public service.

In the modern Internet age access to books online might seem the simplest and easiest option, however, there is usually a charge for downloading these sources.

Therefore, there have been concerns that buying books via Amazon or using other online sources remains a privilege for those of middle-class status and that limits the learning opportunities of children from less wealthy families.

Decline in the number of public libraries is also associated with the low literacy rate in the UK in comparison to other developed countries.

Photograph of a library

The most recent OECD report rated English 16 to 19-year-olds the worst of 23 developed nations in literacy and 22 of 23 in numeracy.

Tiffany De Guzman, a second year TV Production student at BU, also recognises the importance of public libraries for providing a place for studying: “I think it is a shame that libraries are closing as they provide a vital place where people can not only exchange ideas and find information but are also a place to find focus and tranquillity in respects to studying.”

Unfortunately, finding a quiet place to study when students would want it becomes problematic because of high maintenance costs and a lack of funding, which has led to shorter opening hours and a shortage of volunteers.

According to the latest Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy annual survey, all together 106 libraries were closed across the nation last year due to a £50m cut from the library budgets.

As a response, CIPLIP is currently running a campaign, My Library By Right, calling on the government to “fulfil their statutory responsibilities to taxpayers” and keep libraries open.

More than 11,000 people have signed its petition, supported by authors including Neil Gaiman and Joanna Trollope, asking the government to “take clear and decisive action in situations where services are being put at risk”.

Other initiatives include a lobbying act by the Speak Up for Libraries group, who will be asking the government to acknowledge the importance of public libraries.

Speakers including Ardagh, Gibbons, crime author Jake Arnott and young talent Cathy Cassidy will today join a public rally at Central Hall, Westminster, with campaigners from around the country.

To follow the Libraries Day celebrations or to take part in the conversation see the official website or follow the events in social media.