National Library Campaign Conference

On Saturday I attended the Library Campaign conference in London, organised by The Library Campaign and Voices for the Library. The roundup of the day by Voices is here, along with the full text of the speech that Philip Pullman gave.

At the Library Campaign Conference with a teeny bit of Johanna, Demelza and Philip Pullman (Image c/o Benedicte Page)

This was a really important event, not only because it allowed campaigners to share their experiences and offer support and advice, but also to get a sense of how groups around the country feel about hot topics such as volunteer-run libraries, the likelihood of success in legal challenges and what to do about national campaign activities. I think it helped to put campaigners in touch with information and resources they can benefit from. It’s hard to get the message out to everyone about what we do in Voices for the Library, the resources we have on the site that might be of use, and the network of people with experience of library campaigning that we can put in touch with each other, so the event and subsequent publicity has helped. At the same time, it can be hard to be obvious about our limits to manage expectations – we’re all volunteers working full time jobs, and Voices isn’t a funded organisation. We can’t save libraries all on our own and we need a national network – which is why the day was organised in the first place!

A lot of action points came out of the day, a couple of which are particularly important and pressing:

  • The need for a wiki where people can update everyone about local situations and discuss plans of action etc. Voices, The Library Campaign and some others are going to get cracking on this immediately;
  • The need for a large-scale, national event such as a march or rally to put pressure on the DCMS to intervene in library cuts around the country – Voices have been discussing this for a couple of weeks and it was seen as an important activity to get going. Plans are in the pipeline to make sure that the timing, location and scale of this are as effective as possible – let us know if you can help.
I’m very hopeful that the delegates went away with useful information, and will be able to strengthen their own campaigns as well as contribute to the national network. Working alongside organisations like Voices for the Library, CILIP and Campaign for the Book will make events like National Libraries Day even more successful.

Alan Gibbons’ address to the campaign conference

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