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Suffolk Libraries urges public to support National Libraries Day tomorrow

12:00 05 February 2016

Events such as Thursday's Harry Potter Night have helped libraries become a hub for the community

Events such as Thursday's Harry Potter Night have helped libraries become a hub for the community

Archant

People in Suffolk are today being urged people to back their local library – or risk losing them.

Suffolk Libraries is backing the national My Library, My Right campaign organised by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), which promotes the public’s right to free book borrowing.

The campaign has launched a petition signed by more than 12,600 people to prevent further library closures, and now Suffolk Libraries is calling on the county’s book lovers to sign up and show their support.

The launch ties in with National Libraries Day tomorrow, which aims to celebrate the role of libraries.

Alison Wheeler, chief executive of Suffolk Libraries, said: “National Libraries Day this year is giving a real focus to championing the 
country’s libraries and reminding people that they have a right to them.

“We know from the feedback and stories we receive from staff 
and customers how well loved and appreciated Suffolk’s libraries are.

“In a way every day is libraries day in Suffolk as there is always an event, activity or interaction happening in a library that enriches or makes a difference to someone’s life. All of the county’s 44 libraries are open on Saturdays.” Latest figures have revealed that last year the number of books being borrowed dropped from 3,171,903 to 2,904,656, while around 24,000 fewer visits were made across Suffolk.

The service already faces further tough times after the county council announced an 11% reduction in budget, but bosses have maintained that all libraries will remain open with impact to services likely to be minimal.

Since 2010, around 443 libraries have closed across the country, with many more having to reduce services and cut back on hours.

A survey of more than 1,700 people carried out last year revealed that 93% rated Suffolk’s library facilities as good or excellent, while 91% praised the choice of books and information as good or excellent. Tony Brown, chairman of the board at Suffolk Libraries, believes the uptake in friends and community groups at libraries is having a big impact, and is calling on others to back their local library to make sure it does not fall by the wayside.

“Over the past five years the people of Suffolk have really shown their backing for libraries and hundreds of people, like myself, are now members of their library community groups, helping to develop and support their library,” he said.

“National Libraries Day is a perfect time to remind people that we still need this support and how much it makes a difference.”

Yesterday, dozens of sold out events were held to mark Harry Potter 
night, which library chiefs believe demonstrates just how important libraries are for the community.

Ann Gleeves, National Libraries Day ambassador, added: “Libraries matter. If we believe in equality of opportunity we must fight not just for the buildings but for the range of books inside and the skilled staff who can promote reading in all 
its forms. Not only do libraries encourage us to be more tolerant and better informed, they contribute 
to the wealth of the nation.”

To sign the online CILIP petition visit www.cilip.org.uk/advocacy-campaigns-awards/advocacy-campaigns/my-library-right

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