At lunchtime today I signed up to my local library to help support them and the threats that they face of closure from Northamptonshire County Council.
I'm at a time of my life when I don't personally use libraries that much, but they played a pivotal role in my life growing up and without them I wouldn't have the successful career in IT I now have. I also know that as and when I need to make use of community services, I'll need them too. If they're gone, then many of the services that are run from them will also go, and others will become scaled down or unreachable.
I also know that many, many people need Libraries right now. Young families, children, vulnerable and elderly... They are hubs for our communities, and some also house Police services and Council Services.
The last two times I have been into a library I have seen people having requests dealt with for blue badges and concessionary bus passes - things that are much easier for people to reach than if they had to travel ridiculous distances... Which they would without the network of 36 libraries that we have across the county. People in Oundle will have to travel an extra 9.77 miles to get to their nearest library under Option 3 of the Council's proposals, for example.
Northamptonshire is a particularly large and strange shaped county (ask anyone that has to run or work in a county-wide service). It hasn't got the best public transport network that it deserves as it is. The County Council also want to cut all bus subsidies, which will make the situation even worse, and compound the issues for residents if we also lose any of our libraries.
I guess that's the problem, well-off Conservative councillors that get the final say on our libraries don't use them personally so don't really care about them. They fail to think about how closing libraries will affect their communities and residents - those people that they are elected to work on behalf of, and to improve not reduce the quality of their lives and our shared society.
I encourage anyone that supports our libraries that isn't already a member to join Northamptonshire's Library Plus. It took me all of five minutes, and the lady signing me up at Burton Latimer Library was informative and helpful.