Food for thought – from a cracking ambassador for literature, children and fun:

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.

Writing for the Guardian, she said: “While I appreciate that in these austere times all local authorities are seeking to make savings, there is surely a strong argument for library services and in particular children’s library services to be ringfenced against such cuts. Indeed, the 1964 Libraries Act states that every authority must provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ library service and that the government’s duty is to investigate when there are serious complaints that this is not the case. Yet this government has not once seen fit to intervene, not even in Gloucestershire where nearly half the libraries were scheduled for closure and Hertfordshire, where swingeing cuts to the public library service were initially proposed.”

Local authorities in the UK have been pushing forward with branch closures, including Lincolnshire county council, which plans to shut 32 out of 47 libraries, Moray council in Scotland (axing seven out of 15) and Sefton council in Liverpool (closing seven out of 12).

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