Toby Litt, a Lambeth resident, writer and lecturer in Creative Writing at Birkbeck College, has written an open letter imploring Councillor Jane Edbrooke to reconsider Lambeth’s proposed drastic cuts to library services.
In his letter Toby Litt quotes his recent interview with author Neil Gaiman, published by the Guardian: “Here’s what I found the most persuasive thing he said – ‘For me, closing libraries is the equivalent of eating your seed corn to save a little money.'” He goes on to state Lambeth’s Council’s “greater responsibility for the long-term future of Lambeth” urging them to consider the impact of decisions and cuts which will very seriously undermine them.
Speaking explicitly about Lambeth’s proposal to re-purpose library space as gym facilities, Toby writes: “The people who will use the privatised spaces with which you propose to replace the libraries are already well served. They do not need new gyms – they may find these new gyms quite convenient, but they will not find them life-changing.”
By closing libraries and sacking librarians, you close the door forever not just on some books on shelves. For many people, you effectively shut them out of society. You shut them off from a safe place to study, from access to legal advice, from the chance to improve their knowledge and skills.For some children, you shut them out of a place where society seems to be giving them something for free because it’s on their side, you shut them out of world of fact and imagination, you shut them out of Hogwarts, Narnia, Middle Earth – you may also be shutting them out of college and university.
Toby’s argument joins many voices from the community, including from Lambeth UNISON, who are outraged at proposals to reduce Lambeth’s library service.