Authors back libraries fight

TOP authors have added their voices to the campaign against library cuts in Doncaster.

Last week children's laureate Michael Rosen said he felt "sadness and anger" at the plans to cut back on services.

Now best-selling writers Phillip Pullman - author of His Dark Materials - comedian and author Mark Steel and Robert Swindells have joined the list of novelists, illustrators, librarians and educationalists from all over the UK who have written in support of Doncaster librarians' campaign to protect services.

Cash-saving cuts proposed by the council include cutting opening hours, the loss of 34 jobs from the libraries and customer service centres, and purchasing fewer books.

Doncaster Council said last week the cuts were to improve services. Managing director Paul Hart said the council was making changes to opening times in line with demand. He said the authority was committed to delivering a quality library service that met the needs of residents and would make improvements to the service.

Other authors supporting the library workers include Bel Mooney, Anne Fine, Melvin Burgess and Alan Gibbons.

Campaign organiser Alan Gibbons said: "There are several reasons why this is something of a test case. The cuts seem more severe than elsewhere.

"In the Year of Reading it is scandalous to think that libraries can be butchered in this fashion. Once such a wealth of expertise and a decent book stock are lost, it takes years to recover."

Unison's Russell Ballinger said: "Unison members welcome the support of such high-profile figures in this vital dispute.

"I have yet to hear any member of the public make a demand to reduce the opening hours of the libraries.

"If the proposed cuts lead to a better service remains to be seen, however Unison does not accept that cutting budgets will ever lead to a better service. The fact still remains your local library will not be as accessible as it once was and will be delivered with less staff. Surely that cannot be a better service."

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