VIDEO: Protest against libraries

Angry bookworms gathered to protest against the closure of Wigmore Library which will shut its doors today.

Dozens of people spent the morning campaigning and will return for the final closure at 6pm this evening.

Wigmore Library closure protest

Wigmore Library closure protest

Wigmore Library, Sundon Park Library and the mobile library service are all closing as part of Luton Borough Council’s attempts to make budget savings.

Doreen Steinberg, main campaigner for Wigmore Library, said: “We aim to force the council to honour the statutory duty and provide comprehensive library service to the whole town. We want the council to stop discriminating against the elderly, infirm, unemployed, children and those without internet access.”

Campaigners also want to see Luton Culture, who run the libraries on behalf of the council, to make public its accounts.

Narinder Bhourlay, director of libraries and community centres said: “We very much regret that the £1.58m cut our charity is facing has forced us to make changes to the library service.

Wigmore Library closure protest

Wigmore Library closure protest

“We have incredibly loyal customers who deeply value their libraries and the library staff who take pride in serving them. On behalf of Luton Culture, I would like to thank everyone who took part in the public consultation or took the time to sign a petition over the last few months. We understand why people are upset which is why we would like to reassure residents that we will continue to work as hard as we can to increase access to library services across the town.”

Luton Culture have said 86.6 per cent of people in Luton will still live within a mile of a library after these closures – compared to 88 per cent at the moment, and 41 per cent of the active users at the libraries affected by these plans already use other libraries.

Ms Bhourlay said: “However, we realise that for some, especially older people and those with young children, losing their closest library is a huge loss so it is incredibly important for us to ensure that everyone in Luton is still able to access library services regularly, not only to encourage a love of reading but also for IT and internet provision, educational purposes and all the other empowering things that libraries provide.

“For this reason, our utmost priority at present is to ensure every library user is aware of their nearest libraries, as well as our online services and Home Library Service. The Home Library Service will continue to supply books, audio books, music and DVDs to the elderly and those with disability/mobility problems, direct to their doors.”

The majority of books from the libraries which close down are being reallocated to the stock in other Luton libraries, and a small selection are being allocated to various voluntary organisations Luton Culture have been liaising with.

National Libraries Day takes place Saturday February 8 and there are special events happening at the remaining Luton libraries including Luton Central Library, Leagrave Library and Lewsey Lirbary.

To find your nearest and most convenient library call 01582 547418 where Luton Culture staff will be happy to assist.