Students throw the book at planned council cuts

Protestors speak out against budget cuts threatening Cardiff libraries.

A protest involving students from People and Planet has been arranged to speak out against budget cuts to Cardiff’s Library Services.

The mass protest will take place outside the city’s Central Library on February 7th as part of National Libraries Day. With hundreds expected to take part, it will feature a combination of students and local residents armed with books, banners and placards in ‘a symbol of freedom’.

The campaign is supported by a number of prominent local figures and politicians, including children’s author and illustrator Jackie Morris. Those talking part are urged to take along their favourite book and conduct a three-minute reading.

One member of the University’s People and Planet group said: “Libraries are important for everyone in society, especially since they provide access to information and culture.

“Access to libraries shouldn’t be based on money and budgets.”

Now going through its second year of budget cuts, Central Library has faced a series of cutbacks over the previous year. Despite being voted one of the six best libraries globally, this has included the loss of the top floor of the facility, the loss of a quarter of staff, and closures of one day per week.

Next year will see the conversion of Central Library into a ‘Super Hub’, following plans to incorporate the housing benefit and council tax centre into the building.

According to Michael Sweetman from Cardiff Unison, staff have been warned not to talk about budget cuts on social media. He also criticised plans to transfer the duties of paid workers to volunteers.

He said: ‘Libraries are more than a place to store books – they are the only free space where residents can meet in the winter, and a vital place for elderly, disabled and unemployed people to access computers and to search for work.

‘Our right to participate in cultural life is essential for a democracy, and if we don’t put up a fight for these libraries now we won’t get another chance.’

The closure of six other libraries has also been threatened across Cardiff as part of significant budget cuts introduced by Cardiff Council. This includes services in student areas in Roath and Cathays.