Up to 800 libraries are faxed with the axe in the coming days. The Government back-down over Booktrust over Christmas, and its watering down of tuition fees, shows that it is not immune to pressure.
But here's some good news, from The Bookseller:
A simple tweet from a Shropshire ICT lecturer musing on libraries while doing her laundry of a Sunday morning resulted in the hashtag #savelibraries trending worldwide yesterday.
"Libraries are important because ... [fill in your answer & RT] #savelibraries", Mar Dixon tweeted. More than 5,000 people responded spontaneously to her invitation, which was retweeted by, among others, Margaret Atwood and Neil Gaiman.
Top tweets under the hashtag include @genrelibrarian's, retweeted by Neil Gaiman and more than 100 others: "Google can bring back a hundred thousand answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one." Other most retweeted comments include @JoannaCannon's "Libraries are important because, as a child, some of my best friends lived within the pages of a book" and actor Samuel West as @exitthelemming's "Times says Govt. report wants children to be 'school ready'. Perhaps not closing libraries would be a good start?" Radio and TV presenter Lauren Laverne also got involved this morning, tweeting: "Knowledge is power and all that but our libraries need us to help defend them". So too did comedian Robin Ince, asking "do you remember the first book you took out of the library?"
Hundreds more offered personal perspectives. @flangelina_iow wrote: "Library books fed my passion for reading as a child. Please don't steal these moments from our children, they are our future!" while @bootbrush wrote: "I learned more by exploring knowledge in the library than I ever did at school."
Dixon, an American living in Bridgenorth in Shropshire, said the reaction to her tweet was totally unexpected. "It was not a planned campaign," she said. "My day was doing the laundry and going to the shops and writing my assignment and taking back the dog we'd been dog-sitting. But I read a news piece online about libraries closing which I thought was very London-based, so I tweeted to invite people to give their own take on libraries. One person retweeted it, then another, and @Ukpling [the Twitter address for campaign group Voices for the Library] also got involved. When Neil Gaiman picked it up it really took off in the US, where they also have this plight with libraries hit by cuts."
The hashtag was also picked up in Portugal and Italy, and was world trending in second or third place by Sunday mid-afternoon, Dixon said. "It's reached over 5,000 tweets and is still going today, but I've got to teach this morning so I'll check in with it tonight," she added.
The Bookseller has launched a campaign to oppose the "wantonly destructive cuts to the national library service".
Called Fight for Libraries, the campaign will be centred around a Facebook site where news about library cuts and opposition to them will be reported, and which will also function as a hub for all news, sites and information on the struggle against library cuts. The site will operate from http://bit.ly/fight4libraries and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/fight4libraries