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100 Notts Writers Speak Out On Library Closures

16 March 22

Over a hundred local or locally connected writers, together with some local publishers and bookshops, have signed a joint letter opposing Nottingham City Council's planned closure of Aspley, Basford and Radford/Lenton libraries.

Signatories to the letter include Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason, who has written about bringing up her musical family; screenwriter William Ivory; poet and film writer Henry Normal; Guardian columnist Frances Ryan and nature writer Robert McFarlane. The letter was sent to David Mellen, Leader of Nottingham City Council at 9am on Tuesday 15 March. 

The joint letter was initiated by Chris Cook Cann, who runs ExLibris charity booksales, and Ross Bradshaw from Nottingham's independent bookshop and publisher, Five Leaves. Both are former librarians, Chris having previously worked in Basford Library for twenty years.

Ross Bradshaw said "The hundred writers responded within 48 hours of our call out. This happened in 2010 with cuts in library provision in the County, now we are having to fight library cuts in the city. Authors have responded as quickly this time as they did in 2010. All of us - writers and publishers - have benefited at different times in our lives from libraries, as places which loan out our books, as venues for our events and as readers. In Nottingham we've had to do without a central library for two years, the last thing we need now is library closures, particularly in some of our less well off areas in the city."

Chris Cook Cann said "Having worked in Basford Library, it tears me up to think the city council might be closing the library. On Saturday more than sixty of us, including many local parents and their children, held a "read in" protest there. We even had people coming along to join the library on that day. That shows the strength of feeling among users. At a time when it's really hard for a lot of people, libraries are a haven, and for many people where English is not the first language in the home it's a place they can meet and become more part of the wider community. When I worked there, we library staff were sometimes the only people some visitors had spoken to all week. I'm not sure if the council has really considered these closures in terms of their impact on the people on the margins. Having said that, libraries are for all - they are open, free and democratic."

The letter reads:

David Mellen, Nottingham City Council

Nottingham is a UNESCO City of Literature. It needs a strong and splendid library service. Our Central Library has been closed for two years now and whilst we look forward to it eventually opening on its new site, neighbourhood libraries need to stay open and flourish, particularly in less affluent areas and particularly in areas where English is not the first language in many homes. These areas and the people who live there need opportunities, the same opportunities our City gave people when it became the first place in Britain to open a children's library.

If local libraries are closed, many users will be unable to have access to the library service. Time, transport difficulties, disability, caring responsibilities and many other reasons would mean that a substantial proportion of the city’s population were excluded from library use. Some schools would be forced to stop their visits, resulting in many children not being introduced to libraries.  A library service which is inaccessible to a significant number of council tax payers is not an adequate library service.
Libraries offer books and support literacy and the imagination. That alone makes them essential. But they also offer far, far more.

  • A chance to talk with someone if you've been alone all week.
  • A place of warmth and safety.
  • A source of information, especially if you can't afford the internet.
  • A place to take your children that costs nothing, and where they can begin to learn the joy of reading.
  • An opportunity to use the internet to apply for jobs, housing, benefits and whatever else has to be done online – with help from kind staff.
  • A centre for the community.
  • Meeting rooms, photocopying, computers, children’s stories and rhymes, and other resources.
  • A place for children to do their homework in peace, surrounded by learning resources and enough space to spread out.
  • Somewhere to do research.
  • A destination for school visits.

We are signing this letter as one of over one hundred local writers, industry professionals or people otherwise involved in the world of books. We have all benefited from libraries at different times in our lives, as borrowers, as writers whose books are on library shelves, as publishers, as people who have attended or spoken at library events.

We call on Nottingham City Council to support its status as a UNESCO City of Literature by stopping these library closures. It would be better still if the City Council were to use this opportunity to reach out to those who do not yet use libraries, particularly from minority communities in those areas, to involve them in the library provision - to let our buildings and our library staff flourish.

Signed by (A-Z by surname)

Maggie Allison - writer
Jacob Andrews - writer
Chris Arnot - writer, former journalist at Nottingham Evening Post
Deborah Bailey - author
John Baird - Notts Lit blog
Alan Baker - publisher of Leafe Press and Litter magazine
Panya Banjoko - poet
David Belbin - writer
Kathleen Bell - writer
Andreas Bieler - writer
Vic Blake - poet
Stephen Booth - crime writer
Ross Bradshaw - bookseller and publisher (Five Leaves)
Linda Brady - writer
Clare Brown - writer
Bob Cann - Ex-Libris, book sales for charities
Chris Cook Cann - Ex-Libris, book sales for charities
Graham Caveney - writer
Rosie Collins - Nottingham Women's History Group
Andrew Cooper - DH Lawrence Society (personal capacity)
Emma Craddock - writer
Anne Darby - disability rights organiser and writer
Roberta Dewa - writer
Joanne Dixon - writer
Ian C Douglas - writer
Sue Dymoke - writer
Michael Eaton - playwright
Jonathan Emmett - children's writer
Lee Stuart Evans - TV comedy writer and novelist
Ruth Fainlight - writer
Tommy Farmyard - Nottingham Poetry Festival
Susan Finlay - writer
Neil Fulwood - writer
Dr Rich Goodson- writer
Norma Gregory - Black history writer, Nottingham News Centre
Rebecca Gregory -  history writer
Cathy Grindrod - writer
Rebekah Hemmens - writer
Elain Harwood, architectural historian
 Clare Harvey - writer
Pippa Hennesy - writer and publisher
Stephen L Holland  (Comics Laureate 2021-2023), co-creator/curator of Page 45
Anne Holloway - Big White Shed/Nottingham Poetry Festival
William Ivory - writer for film and TV
Miriam Jackson - Nottingham Women's History Group
Joshua Judson - poet
Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason - writer
Cathy Le Surf - musician
Giselle Leeb - writer
Thomas Legendre - academic and novelist
Cathy Lesurf - musician
Alan Lodge - freelance photographer
Patrick Limb - Chair, Nottingham City of Literature
John Lucas - author and publisher (Shoestring Press)
Robert McFarlane - nature writer
Vron McIntyre - poet
Maresa MacKeith - writer
Rod Madocks - writer
Eve Makis - writer
Chris Matthews - local history and planning writer
Leanne Moden - poet
Jamie Mollart - writer
Alison Moore - writer
Gareth Morgan - writer
Henry Normal - screenwriter and poet
Nottingham Writers Studio - board members - Alan Walker, Tracey Hylton, Hannah Gascoyne , Nick Sturgeon, Adam O'Connell, Steve Katon, Thom Seddon
Adam Penfold - Theatre Director
Gareth Peter - children's writer
Pascale Quiviger - writer
Yvonne Radley - currently studying MA Creative Writing at NTU 
Ronne Randall - children's writer
Peter Richardson - photographer
Elvire Roberts - poet, sign language interpreter
Frances Ryan - author and Guardian columnist
Manjit Sahota - poet
Shreya Sen-Handley - writer
Miranda Seymour - biographer 
Farhana Shaikh - author and publisher (Dahlia Press)
Jeff Sheard - local history writer
Alan Simpson - former MP for Nottingham South, author
Darren Simpson - young adult fiction writer
Tony Simpson - Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation
David S Stewart OBE D.Litt.h.c. DL
Claire Storey - literary translator
Jenny Swann - Trustee of Nottingham City of Literature
Roger Tanner - local history writer
Andrew Taylor - writer
Professor Andrew Thacker - Nottingham Trent University (personal capacity)
Frances Thimann -  former Librarian, writer, lifelong and constant library user
Christopher Towers - poet
Sian Trafford -  Nottingham Women's History Group
Tom Unterrainer - editor, Spokesman Books
Mrs Jai Verma - writer
Victoria Villasenor - Global Words publisher
Hazel Warren - DIY Poets and Papercranes (personal capacity)
Dr Rory Waterman - Associate Professor of Modern & Contemporary Literature
Gail Webb - poet
Matthew Welton - poet, Associate Professor in Creative Writing
Andrew Whitehead - Visiting Professor at University of Nottingham (personal capacity), author
Felicity Whittle - Goldstar Tours, literary walks
Georgina Wilding - poet
Dave Wood - poet
Nick Wood - playwright
Felicity Woolf - writer
Professor Gregory Woods - writer

110 to be exact!

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