This year, the UNISON SOS campaign will focus on libraries and how cuts have had a devastating impact on this service, library workers and the communities who use them.
Libraries are a hub and a haven in their communities. They are a source of local knowledge and history, and give everyone access to books, DVDs, music and more, for free or at a very low cost.The incredible work that libraries do every day to support their local communities is under threat because of the Westminster government’s unfair cuts to spending on local services. Libraries have been hit particularly hard by cuts; over 478 libraries have closed in just six years. The effects of these cuts – closures, redundancies, library privatisation and loss of expertise – are devastating for libraries and the people who depend on them. In Plymouth we have just undergone a consultation over closures of libraries that Plymouth in UNISON took part in and our members played some small part in the campaign that saved the libraries at Estover Peverell, North Prospect and Efford.
Others like Stoke are slated to close in September, although the timetable may shift, and West Park remains under threat once St Budeaux is redeveloped. We need to make sure that library services are protected and invested in so that communities can enjoy and benefit from them now and in the future.
The SOS campaign this year will hold SOS Day on Thursday 19th October. On SOS Day, UNISON activists and communities across the UK will join together to raise awareness of the impact of under-funding and privatisation on library services. We need to move before then, and we have already asked for formal consultation on how changes including closures will be implemented. If you live near Stoke, or a PL5 postcode in particular then why not write to your local councillors. West Park clearly has a stay of execution and of those slated to close Stoke was easily the most used. We need to get Labour to commit to restoring at least some of the service if they take back control of the Council next May
We will ask our members to show their support by joining their local library if they haven’t already, making sure they visit and use the great range of services on offer where they live.
We will call on local and national decision-makers to take action on shameful spending cuts and ask councils to commit to providing comprehensive library services.
What can you do to help get ready for SOS Day?
Inform members of SOS Day on 19th October and ask them to take a look at the SOS campaign page of the UNISON website for more information: www.unison.org.uk/saveourlocalservices