Campaigners fight for threatened Suffolk libraries

PUBLISHED: 10:46 07 February 2011

Bungay Library faces the axe

Bungay Library faces the axe

Archant © 2011

Campaigners staged protests across Suffolk today as part of a national day of action to save libraries.

Suffolk County Council has said it can no longer afford to run 29 of its 44 libraries as it bids to make massive savings.

It has asked communities to come forward if they are able to take on the running of their libraries – but if deals cannot be reached, the threatened branches will close.

Hundreds of people turned out this morning to support Bungay library, which is on the hit-list.

Campaigners organised a ‘read-in’ and residents were encouraged to go along to read, take books out, use the computer facilities or just browse, to show the strength of feeling in the town.

Among those taking part was 87-year-old novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard CBE, who lives in Bungay.

She said the library was of “paramount importance” to local people and added: “If you take away a library it hits poor people the hardest.

“Well off people can buy books for their children, but a lot of people cannot afford to do that. If we want our children to read we have got to make books freely available.”

Meanwhile dozens of residents gathered at the threatened Stradbroke Library where they also conducted a ‘read-in’ and encouraged people to sign a petition against its closure.

James Hargrave, spokesman for the campaign to keep the treasured building open, said the parish council simply did not have the money to keep it running themselves.

“For people who work and can go elsewhere it may not make a big difference but for children, particularly young children and older people, this library is a lifeline and one of the only services we have left in Stradbroke,” he added.

For the full story and pictures see Monday’s EDP.

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