Yesterday’s protest at the Central Library was a great success, bringing together library campaigners and various local activists from across Doncaster, library workers, trade unionists and others who are enraged by the plans to shut down 14 of our local libraries. Some 150 protesters had already demonstrated outside the threatened library in Bawtry.
A series of speakers including playwrights, authors, trade unionists and campaigners talked passionately about how libraries had helped them as individuals and their communities as a whole, a common theme being how harmful it would be to close libraries in areas which have already faced the devastation of pit closures and other industries which have been wiped out in the town. How will people be able to escape the poverty forced on them without access to books and computers which local libraries provide?
Many of the speakers saw the fight for our libraries as being just a part of the struggle against the massive cuts program being unleashed on us by the Con-Dem coalition government, and that there was a need to work with others to resist all cuts. Only this week the council announced a swathe of attacks on the terms and conditions of its employees, including their plan to cut redundancy payments by half. They have already said that there are between 30 and 40 compulsory redundancies within the library service alone.
Doncaster Coalition of Resistance organised a protest in the centre of town earlier, which then moved on to the library bringing trade unionists and people out shopping to the library protest. On their arrival other protesters greeted them with applause. CoR members carried plackards in defence of libraries, care workers and services in general, and others saying “Make the Bankers Pay” and “Solidarity with Tunisia”. There was a great feeling that we can mobilise the anger felt amongst Doncaster residents to force the council to back down on the closures.
The protest continues next Saturday, 5th Feb when there will be Read-ins and protests at many of the libraries under threat across Doncaster, as part of the national campaign to defend libraries.