Campaigners want you to vote for libraries in this general election

Continuing the fight for real investment in public libraries, CILIP are getting the public on board to keep the vital service alive

Library experts CILIP are driving a campaign to get politicians putting local communities and their libraries at the heart of their election campaigns.

People across the UK can pledge their support at VoteLibraries.uk, download features to kit out their social media accounts, get posters and campaign materials to bring the fight for libraries to their town and get guidance on emailing local candidates to push them to support the cause.

CILIP – the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals‘ #VoteLibraries efforts are supported by a recent joint report created with the help of The Big Issue. Having long campaigned for greater investment in libraries, Big Issue founder Lord John Bird teamed up with Gill Gurniss MP to meet with the government. When they asked for more support for UK libraries, the government demanded data.

The resulting report – Public Libraries: The Case for Support – sets out all the evidence proving that they’re a vital public amenity that the government should back renewed long-term investment for. It involved the British Library, Carnegie UK Trust and plenty of others to demonstrate the life-changing potential of public library services.

Nick Poole, chief executive of CILIP, said: “We want to send a strong message to anyone standing in this election, after years of public sector austerity, the time for investment in our public services is now. Libraries play a vital role at the heart of every community across the country and the public want to see their elected officials standing up for their communities.

“Although many see this as a ‘one-issue’ election, we are not a one issue country. Whatever happens in the coming weeks and months, the library’s role in promoting inclusive economic growth, supporting local businesses and combatting loneliness and social isolation isn’t going to change and we need a government that recognises and supports that.”

As well as encouraging the public to get involved, CILIP will be lobbying the major parties to include libraries in their manifesto pledges.

“The best way of smashing poverty is through libraries,” Bird said in his opening address at Houses of Parliament when launching the Public Libraries report.

“One of the planks of my work here in parliament is to encourage support of libraries because they are the intellectual space at the epicentre of every healthy community.

“This a really sexy report,” he continued. “It does what the government asked us to do when we had a meeting with the Minister for Libraries. They said, ‘What is the evidence that if you have a really good library there is a knock on social effect?’

DID YOU KNOW…

There are currently around 1,450 Big Issue sellers working hard on the streets each week.

“This evidence based report supports the case that every visit to a library is an opportunity to start the process of changing lives.

“When we set up The Big Issue, most of the people we met who were coming out of prison or the armed forces, living on the streets, or were stuck because of the poor social security system wanted to find a way of using education as a means of furthering their lives. Libraries were central to that, so we have supported libraries for the last 28 years.”