Liverpool is close to my heart. It's where my mother is from. It's where most of the British side of my family still lives. It's a place I spent quite a lot of time in my early 20s. This morning I ran across an article on The Edge talking about the Save Liverpool Libraries campaign. 11 of Liverpool's 18 libraries are under threat from budget cuts. That means fewer opportunities for people living in the Liverpool metro area to check out books, get jobs services, and take computer courses.
Losing more than half of a city's branch libraries would be devastating anywhere, and it's particularly hard to think about in a city that means so much to my family and me. My mother has fond memories of the Walton Library on Evered Avenue. Going several times a week as a child helped solidified her life-long love of reading. The mass closure of libraries like these 11 in jeopardy makes our cities culturally, intellectually, and economically poorer.
Here in New York City, I've watched the City Council threaten to slash the New York Public Library's budget multiple times. In 2013, the preliminary city budget looked to cut funding to the NYPL, Queens Public Library, and Brooklyn Public Library by $106.7 million. That would have meant the end of Saturday service at branches across the city, one of the only days that many people (myself included) can get to the library. Happily that did not happen, but it was too close for comfort for patrons.
I've watched politicians praise NYC's branch libraries for making books available to kids, resume and job training to the unemployed, and technological education to seniors. Then some of those same people have turned around and tried to pass budgets that would dramatically slash those same library services. This has prompted me to do two things: vote for City Councilmembers who campaign on supporting the NYPL and have the voting record to prove it and open my checkbook each year to make a contribution (albeit small) to the library.
So what can you and I do for Liverpool's libraries? There is a campaign asking us to write love letters to the libraries to keep branches open. Supporters of library accessibility can contact the Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson by clicking here. Authors David Nicholls, Caitlin Moran, Malorie Blackman and Carol Ann Duffy have already written their letters.
With campaigns like this, there is always a question of whether outside advocacy will make a difference. I strongly believe that if you care about library accessibility worldwide you have to do something. Even if your contribution to the effort to keep Liverpool's libraries safe from budget cuts is small, it matters.
If you would like to read more about the love letters to the Liverpool libraries, The Guardian recently write about it. I hope you'll join me in spreading the word because even a little nudge from each individual who cares about libraries can help.