The US division of children’s book publisher Egmont will close, effective January 31, 2015, after attempts to sell the division failed. Danish parent company Egmont Publishing International began looking for a buyer in October 2014, but found no takers.
In Shropshire a review of library services is under way, designed to save £1.3 million. All Powys libraries will remain open but their operating hours will be reduced next year to save money
The steps set off alarm bells with Morpurgo, who at 71 says he has enjoyed the luxury of having access to public lending.
The War Horse author believes councillors should rethink proposals to cut library services for the good of the next generation.
Speaking after a performance at the Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury, he said the closure of libraries would be especially detrimental for children.
“There is a growing difficulty in getting children to read which needs to be tackled,” he said.
“Parents have to read to their children to help them make their own ways in life and to develop into an all rounded adult. Books are a great way to teach children but sadly some parents do not have time anymore. Some children arrive at school without having seen a book. It is then down to the great teachers and schools to teach the children how to read. The important thing to keep this going is to support libraries and not let local authorities close them. Libraries are how people fall in love with books. I know the argument is the internet is taking over but not everybody has the internet – a lot of older people don’t. You can access a range and depth of books in the library that you just can’t do on the internet. They are wonderful places for information and form parts of local communities. Councils say not enough people use them but the answer to that is more investment to make them better rather than close them.”
Full text of speech given by Susan Cooper to the recent YLG (Youth Libraries Group) conference…
Highly recommended read
These are the two closing paragraphs:
The lucky child has a parent who reads to him, the lucky child has books on her shelves. All children should have the luck to have a public library, filled not only with information and computers but with books, and book people. In America, the book people are battling for this just as you are here. I haven’t yet seen a library closure total to compare with the 201 libraries closed here in 2012, but in that year 93% of American libraries reported cutting their staff, or their hours, or both.
Here’s the way I ended that talk that I gave 23 years ago: “We’re fighting a battle, you and I, every day, a lot of little guerilla skirmishes in the underground war to preserve the imagination. That’s what this weekend has been all about. We write the books, but you people, out there, have more influence than anyone over our readers. Without the channel that you keep clear, between the private worlds of the child who became a writer, and the new child out there reading, there would be no point in children’s literature at all.
The children’s laureate, Malorie Blackman, has attacked the government for failing to intervene to stop local authorities closing libraries, arguing that they should be ringfenced from spending cuts.
At least 347 libraries shut their doors for the last time in the first two years of the coalition government and, as austerity measures continue to bite, putting pressure on councils to slash funding, campaigners have warned that 400 more could be axed over the next three years.
In many cases the cutbacks have prompted fierce protests and Blackman, appointed children’s laureate in June, has added her voice to the dissent.