November 2014 | Nate Pedersen

Liverpool Drops Plan to Close Libraries; Authors Claim Victory

A protest letter signed by 500 authors and artists has successfully halted Liverpool city plans to close 11 of its 18 branches. The letter described the proposed cuts as a "massacre" and pinpointed children as paying the heaviest cost for the closures.  "The loss would devastate Liverpool," wrote the supporters. "With recent figures showing that one in three children does not own a book, it seems to us terrifying that even the chance of borrowing a book is about to be taken away from many Liverpool children."

The letter was signed by children's laureate Malorie Blackman, poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Caitlin Moran, Jonathan Coe, Alan Gibbons, Cathy Cassidy and Meg Rosoff amongst many others. In addition to producing the protest letter, the campaign held rallies, stitched banners, and garnered international support.

Liverpool had seen a dramatic 58% cut in its government funding.  The Liverpool council said the cut would necessitate a £2.5m loss to the library service provided by the city, primarily in the way of branch closures.

In a statement issued yesterday, however, Liverpool city mayor Joe Anderson announced a reversal of plans.

Cathy Cassidy, young adult author and a primary organizer of the campaign, said in an interview with The Guardian, "I asked people to write 'love letters to Liverpool libraries' and send them to Liverpool's mayor, and hundreds of heart-breaking and uplifting letters flooded in from schoolchildren, families and library users as well as supporters all around the UK - this was devised as a positive, peaceful and non-political way for people to show the council how much the libraries mean to them."

[Image of Liverpool central library from Wikipedia]